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University of California Berkeley 

Gift of 



" In these days, ten ordinary histories of kings and courtiers were well exchanged 
against the tenth part of one good History of Booksellers." THOMAS CARLVLE. 




|ISTORY" has been aptly termed the 
" essence of innumerable biographies ;" and 
this surely justifies us in the selection of 
our title ; but in inditing a volume to be issued in a 
cheap and popular form, it was manifestly impossible 
to trace the careers of all the eminent members, 
ancient and modern, of a Trade so widely extended ; 
had we, indeed, possessed all possible leisure for 
research, every available material, and a space 
thoroughly unlimited, it is most probable that the 
result would h:ive been distinguished chiefly for its 
bulk, tediousness, and monotony. It was resolved, 
therefore, in the first planning of the volume, to 
primarily trace the origin and growth of the Book- 
selling and Publishing Trades up to a comparatively 
modern period ; and then to select, for fuller treat- 
ment, the most typical English representatives of each 
one of the various branches into which a natural 
division of labour had subdivided the whole. And, 
by this plan, it is believed that, while some firms at 
present growing into eminence may have been 
omitted, or have received but scant acknowledgment, 


no one Publisher or Bookseller, whose spirit and labours 
have as yet had time to justify a claim to a niche in 
the "HISTORY OF BOOKSELLERS," has been alto- 
gether passed over. In the course of our " HISTORY," 
too, we have been necessarily concerned with the 
manner of the (( equipping and furnishing" of nearly 
every great work in our literature. So that, while on 
the one hand we have related the lives of a body of 
men singularly thrifty, able, industrious, and perse- 
vering in some few cases singularly venturesome, 
liberal, and kindly-hearted we have on the other, by 
our comparative view, tried to throw a fresh, at all 
events a concentrated, light upon the interesting story 
of literary struggle. 

No work of the kind has ever previously been 
attempted, and this fact must be an apology for 
some, at least, of our shortcomings. 

H. C. 

November, 1873. 




Classical and Educational Literature. 


The "Edinburgh Review? " Waver ley Novels" and 
" Encyclopedia Britannica." 


Belles- Lettres and Travels. 


" Blackwood*s Edinburgh Magazine." 


Literature for the People. 


Three- Volume Novels and Light Literature. 


Religious Literature. 


Technical Literature. 


Poetical Literature. 




The "Number" Trade. 


Book- Auctioneering and the "Remainder Trade." 


Children's Literature and " Book-Manufacturing? 


Collecting for the Country Trade. 


The Lending Library. 

W. H. SMITH AND SON - - 433 

Railway Literatitre. 


York : Gent and Burdekin. Newcastle : Goading, 
Bryson, Bewick, and Charnley. Glasgow : Fowlis 
and Collins. Liverpool : Johnson. Dublin : Duffy. 
Derby : Mozley, Richardson, and Bemrose. Man- 
chester : Harrop, Barker, Timperley, and the Hey- 
woods. Birmingham : Hutton, Baskerville, and 
" The Educational Trading Co" Exeter : Brice. 
Btistol: Cottle. 


T ONG ages before the European invention of the art 
of printing, long even before the encroaching masses 
of Huns and Visigoths rolled the wave of civilization 
backward for a thousand years, the honourable trades, 
of which we aim to be in some degree the chroniclers, 
had their representatives and their patrons. Without 
going back to the libraries of Egypt a subject fertile 
enough in the pages of mythical history or to the 
manuscript-engrossers and sellers of Ancient Greece 
though by their labours much of the world's best poetry, 
philosophy, and wit was garnered for a dozen centuries, 
like wheat ears in a mummy's tomb, to be scattered to 
the four winds of heaven, when the Mahometans seized 
upon Constantinople, thenceforth to fructify afresh, 
and, in connection with the art of printing, as if the 
old world and the new clasped hands upon promise of 
a better time, to be mainly instrumental in the "revival 
of letters" it will be sufficient for our present purpose 
to know that there were in Rome, at the time of the 
Empire, many publishing firms, who, if they could not 
altogether rival the magnates of Albemarle Street and 
the " Row," issued books at least as good, and, para- 



doxical as it may seem, at least as cheaply as their 
modern brethren. 

To the sauntering Roman of the Augustan age litera- 
ture was an essential; never, probably, till quite modern 
times was education the education, at all events, that 
supplies a capability to read and write so widely spread. 
The taste thus created was gratified in many ways. If 
the Romans had no Mudie, they possessed public 
libraries, thrown freely open to all. They had public 
recitations, at which unpublished and ambitious writers 
could find ail audience ; over which, too, sometimes 
great emperors presided, while poets, with a world- 
wide reputation, read aloud their favourite verses. 
They had newspapers, the subject-matter of which 
was wonderfully like our own. The principal journal, 
entitled Acta Diurna, was compiled under the sanc- 
tion of the government, and hung up in some place of 
frequent resort for the benefit of the multitude, and 
was probably copied for the private accommodation 
of the wealthy. All public events of importance were 
chronicled here ; the reporters, termed actuarii, fur- 
nished abstracts of the proceedings in the law courts 
and at public assemblies ; there was a list of births, 
deaths, and marriages ; and we are informed that the 
one article of news in which the Acta Diurna particu- 
larly abounded was that of reports of trials for divorce. 
Juvenal tells us that the women were all agog for 
deluges, earthquakes, and other horrors, and that the 
wine- merchants and traders used to invent false news 
in order to affect their various markets. But, in 
addition to all these means for gratifying the Roman 
taste for reading, every respectable house possessed a 
library, and among the better classes the slave-readers 
(anagnosta) and the slave-transcribers (librarii) were 


almost as indispensable as cooks and scullions. At 
first we find that these slaves were employed in 
making copies of celebrated books for their masters 
but gradually the natural division of labour produced 
a separate class of publishers. Atticus, the Moxon of 
the period, and an author of similar calibre, saw an 
opening for his energies in the production of copies of 
favourite authors upon a large scale. He employed a 
number of slaves to copy from dictation simul- 
taneously, and was thus able to multiply books as 
quickly as they were demanded. His success speedily 
finding imitators, among whom were Tryphon and 
Dorus, publishing became a recognized trade. The 
public they appealed to was not a small one. Mar- 
tial, Ovid, and Propcrtius speak of their works as 
being known all the world over ; that young and old, 
women and girls, in Rome and in the provinces, in 
Britain and in Gaul, read their verses. " Every one," 
says Martial, " has me in his pocket, every one has 
me in his hands." 

" Laudat, amat, cantat nostros mea Roma libellos : 
Meque sinus omnis, me manus omnis habet." 

Horace speaks of the repugnance he felt at seeing his 
works in the hands of the vulgar. And Pliny writes 
that Regulus is mourning ostentatiously for the loss 
of his son, and no one weeps like him luget ut nemo* 
" He composes an oration which he is not content 
with publicly reciting in Rome, but must needs enrich 
the provinces with a thousand copies of it." 

School-books, too, an important item in publishing 
eyes, were in demand at Rome : Juvenal says that " the 

verses which the boy has just conned over at his desk 



he stands up to repeat," and Persius tells us that poets 
were ambitious to be read in the schools ; while Nero, 
in his vanity, gave special command that his verses 
should be placed in the hands of the students. 

Thus, altogether, there must have been a large 
book-buying public, and this fact is still further 
strengthened by the cheapness of the books produced. 
M. Geraud* concludes that the prices were lower 
than in our own day. According to Martial the first 
book of his Epigrams was to be bought, neatly bound, 
for five denarii (nearly three shillings), but in a 
cheaper binding for the people it cost six to ten ses- 
tertii (a shilling to eighteen pence) ; his thirteenth 
book of Epigrams was sold for four sestertii (about 
eightpence), and half that price would, he says, have 
left a fair profit (Epig. xiii. 3). He tells us, more- 
over, that it would only require one hour to copy the 
whole of the second book, 

" Haec una peragit librarius hora." 

This book contains five hundred and forty verses, 
and though he may be speaking with poetical licence, 
the system of abbreviations did undoubtedly consider- 
ably lessen the labour of transcribing, and it would be 
quite possible, by employing a number of transcribers 
simultaneously, to produce an edition of such a work 
in one day. 

In Rome, therefore, we see that from the employ- 
ment of slave labour and some thousands of slaves 
were engaged in this work of transcribing books were 
both plentiful and cheap.f 

* " Essai sur les Livres dans 1'Antiquite." 

t For a very interesting article on this subject, see Cornhill Alaga- 
zine, vol. ix. 

William Caxton. The first printer at Westminster. 
1410 1491. 

1112211 IJL Hi / 

Caxton's Monogram. 
(Facsiinilf from his Works.} 


In the Middle Ages this state of things was entirely 
altered. Men were too busy in giving and receiving 
blows, in oppressing and being oppressed, to have the 
slightest leisure for book-learning. Slaves, such as 
then existed, were valued for far different things than 
reading and writing ; and even their masters' kings, 
princes, lords, and other fighting dignitaries, would 
have regarded a quill-pen, in their mail-gloved hands, 
as a very foolish and unmanly weapon. There was 
absolutely no public to which bookmakers could 
have appealed, and the art of transcribing was con- 
fined entirely to a few monks, whose time hung 
heavily upon their hands ; and, as a natural result, 
writers became, as Odofredi says, " no longer writers 
but painters," and books were changed into elaborate 
works of art. Nor was this luxurious illumination 
confined to Bibles and Missals ; the very law books 
were resplendent, and a writer in the twelfth century 
complains that in Paris the Professor of Jurisprudence 
required two or three desks to support his copy of 
Ulpian, gorgeous with golden letters. No wonder 
that Erasmus says of the Secunda Secundea that " no 
man can carry it about, much less get it into his 

At first there was no trade whatever in books, but 
gradually a system of barter sprung up between the 
monks of various monasteries ; and with the founda- 
tion of the Universities a regular class of copyists was 
established to supply the wants of scholars and pro- 
fessors, and this improvement was greatly fostered by 
the invention of paper. 

The booksellers of this period were called Sta- 
tionarii, either from the practice of stationing them- 
selves at booths or stalls in the streets (in contradis- 


tinction to the itinerant vendors) or from the other 
meaning of the Latin term static, which is, Crevier 
tells us, entrepot or depository, and he adds that the 
booksellers did little else than furnish a place of 
deposit, where private persons could send their manu- 
scripts for sale. In addition to this, indeed as their 
chief trade, they sent out books to be read, at exorbi- 
tant prices, not in volumes, but in detached parts, 
according to the estimation in which the authors were 

In Paris, where the trade of these stationarii was 
best developed, a statute regarding them was pub- 
lished in 1275, by which they were compelled to take 
the oath of allegiance once a year, or, at most, 
once every two years. They were forbidden by this 
same statute to purchase the books placed in their 
hands until they had been publicly exposed for sale 
for at least a month ; the purchase money was to 
be handed over direct to the proprietor, and the book- 
seller's commission was not to exceed one or two per 
cent. In addition to the stationarii, there were in 
Paris several pedlars or stall-keepers, also under 
University control,, who were only permitted to exhibit 
their wares under the free heavens, or beneath the 
porches of churches where the schools were occa- 
sionally kept. The portal at the north end of the 
cross aisle in Rouen Cathedral is still called le Portail 
des Libraires. 

In England the first stationers were probably them- 
selves the engrossers of what they sold, when the 
learning and literature of the country demanded as 
the chief food A B C's and Paternosters, Aves and 
Creeds, Graces and Amens. Such was the employ- 
ment of our earliest stationers, a,s the names of their 

Wynkyn de Worde. 14931534. The second printer at Westminster. 
(From a drawing by Fathorne.} 

Headpiece of William Caxton . 


favourite haunts Paternoster Row, Amen Corner, 
and Ave Maria Lane bear ample witness ; while 
the term stationer soon became synonymous with 
bookseller, and, in connection with the Stationers' 
Company, of no little importance, as we shall soon 
see, in our own bookselling annals. 

In 1292, the bookselling corporation of Paris con- 
sisted of twenty-four copyists, seventeen bookbinders, 
nineteen parchment makers, thirteen illuminators, and 
eight simple dealers in manuscripts. But at the time 
when printing was first introduced upwards of six 
thousand people are said to have subsisted by 
copying and illuminating manuscripts a fact that, 
even if exaggerated, says something for the gradual 
advancement of learning. 

The European invention of printing, which here 
can only be mentioned ; the diffusion of Greek manu- 
scripts and the ancient wisdom contained therein, 
consequent upon the capture of Constantinople by 
the Turks ; the discovery of America ; and, finally, 
the German and English religious Reformations, were 
so many rapid and connected strides in favour of 
knowledge and progress. All properly-constituted 
conservative minds were shocked that so many new 
lights should be allowed to stream in upon the 
world, and every conceivable let and hindrance was 
called up in opposition. Royal prerogatives were 
exercised, Papal bulls were issued, and satirists (soi- 
disanf] were bitter. .A French poet of this period, 
sneering at the invention of printing, and the dis- 
covery of the New World by Columbus, says of the 
press, in language conveyed by the following dog- 
gerel : 


"I've seen a mighty throng 
Of printed books and long, 
To draw to studious ways 
The poor men of our days ; 
By which new-fangled practice, 
We soon shall see the fact is, 
Our streets will swarm with scholars 
Without clean shirts or collars, 
With Bibles, books, and codices 
As cheap as tape for bodices." 

In spite of this feeling against the popularization of 
learning and the spread of education a feeling not 
quite dead yet, if we may trust the evidence of a few 
good old Tory speakers on the evil effects (forgery, 
larceny, and all possible violation of the ten command- 
ments) of popular education a feeling perhaps sub- 
siding, for a country gentleman of the old school 
told us recently that he " would wish every working" 
man to read the Bible the Bible only and that with 
difficulty" a progressive sign the world was too well 
aware of the good to be gathered from the furtherance 
of these novelties to willingly let them die, and 
though the battle was from the first a hard one, it has 
been, from first to last, a winning battle. 

It will be essential throughout this chapter, and 
indeed throughout the whole work, to bear in mind 
that it was not till quite modern times that a separate 
class was formed to buy copyrights, to employ prin- 
ters, and to sell the books wholesale, to which their 
names were affixed on the title pages to be in fact, in 
the modern acceptation of the word, Publishers.. 
There was no such class among the old booksellers; but 
they had to do everything for themselves, to construct 
the types, presses, and other essentials for printing, to 
bind the sheets when printed, and finally, when the 

Richard Pynson. Died about 1530. 

Monogram used by Richard Pynson. 


books were manufactured, to sell them to the general 
public. For long, many of the booksellers had print- 
ing offices ; they all, of course, kept shops, at which 
not only printed books but stationery was retailed ; 
book-binders were not unfrequent among them ; and, 
to very recent times, they were the chief proprietors 
of newspapers, a branch of the trade that appears, 
from some modern instances, to be again falling in 
their direction. 

In England the printing press found a sure asylum, 
but at first the books printed were very few in num- 
ber and the issue of each book small. The works 
produced by Caxton consisted almost entirely of 
translations. " Divers famous clerks and learned 
men," says one of the early printers, " translated and 
made many noble works into our English tongue. 
Whereby there was much more plenty and abundance 
of English used than there was in times past." 
Wynkyn de Worde followed closely in his master's 
footsteps ; but soon a new source of employment for 
the press was discovered, and De Worde turned his 
attention to the production of Accidences, Lncidaries, 
Orchards of Words, Proinptuaries for Little Children, 
and the like. With the Reformation came of course 
a great demand for Bibles, and, between the years 
1526 and 1600, so great was the rush for this new 
supply of hitherto forbidden knowledge that we have 
no less than three hundred and twenty-six editions, 
or parts of editions, of the English Bible. 

In the " Typographical Antiquities " of Ames and 
Herbert are recorded the names of three hundred and 
fifty printers in England and Scotland, who flourished 
between 1474 and 1600. Though these "printers" 
were also booksellers, their history belongs more 


properly to the annals of printing. We will, there- 
fore, confine ourselves to a preliminary account of the 
Stationers' Company, and then enter forthwith upon 
such biographical sketches as our space will allow, of 
the men who may be regarded, if not uniformly in 
the "modern sense as publishers, at any rate as the 
representative booksellers of old London. 

The "Stationers or Text-writers who wrote and 
sold all sorts of books then in use " were first formed 
into a guild in the year 1403, by the authority of the 
Lord Mayor and Court of Aldermen, and possessed 
ordinances made for the good government of their 
fellowship ; and thus constituted they assembled 
regularly in their first hall in Milk Street under the 
government of a master and two wardens ; but no 
privilege or charter has ever been discovered, under 
which, at that period, they acted as a corporate body. 
The Company had, however, no control over printed 
books until they received their first charter from 
Mary and Philip on 4th May 1557. The object of 
the charter is thus set forth in the preamble : " Know 
ye that we, considering and manifestly perceiving that 
several seditious and heretical books, both in verse 
and prose, are daily published, stamped and printed, 
by divers scandalous, schismatical, and heretical 
persons, not only exciting our subjects and liege-men 
to sedition and disobedience against us, our crown 
and dignity ; but also to the renewal and propagating 
very great and detestable heresies against the faith 
and sound Catholic doctrine of Holy Mother the 
Church ; and being willing to provide a proper remedy 
in this case," &c. The powers granted to the Com- 
pany by this charter were, verbally, absolute. Not 
only were they to search out, seize, and destroy books 


printed in contravention of the monopoly, or against 
the faith and sound Catholic doctrine of Holy Mother 
Church ; but they might seize, take away, have, burn, 
or convert to their own use, whatever they should 
think was printed contrary to the form of any statute, 
act, or proclamation, made or to be made. And this 
charter renewed by Elizabeth in 1588, amplified by 
Charles II. in 1684, and confirmed by William and 
Mary in 1690, is still virtually in existence. It is 
scarcely strange that such enormous powers as these 
were but little respected ; indeed Queen Elizabeth 
herself was one of the first to invade their privileges, 
and she granted the following, among other mono- 
polies, away from the Stationers' Company : 

To Byrde, the printing of music books. 

To Serres, psalters, primers, and prayer books, 

To Flower, grammars. 

To Tothill, law books. 

To Judge (the Queen's Printer), Bibles and Testaments. 

To Watkin and Roberts, almanacs and prognostica- 

To Vautrollier, Latin Testaments and other Latin 

To Marsh, school-books. 

To Day, A B C's and catechisms. 

(This last had his printing office in Moorgate Street, 
ornamented with the motto, " Arise, for it is Day !") 

The Stationers' Company, sorely damaged in trade 
by the sudden and almost entire loss of their privi- 
leges, petitioned the Queen, representing that they 
were subject to certain levies, that they supplied 
when called upon a number of armed men, and that 
they expected to derive some benefit when they 


underwent these liabilities. As a reply they were 
severely reprimanded for daring to question the 
queen's prerogative, upon which they petitioned again, 
but more humbly, that they might at least be placed 
on an equal footing with the interlopers, and be per- 
mitted to print something or other. Her Majesty 
was shortly pleased to sanction an arrangement by 
which they were to possess the exclusive right of 
printing and selling psalters, primers, almanacs, and 
books tending to the same purpose the A B C's, the 
Little Catechism, Nowell's English and Latin Cate- 
chisms, &c. 

Ward, and Wolf a fishmonger, however, disputed 
the power of the Company, declaring it to be lawful, 
according to the written law of the land, for any 
printer to print all books ; and when the Master and 
Wardens of the Company went to search Ward's 
house, preparatory to seizing, burning, or conveying 
away his books, they were ignominiously defeated by 
his wife. The Lord Treasurer likewise sent com- 
missioners thither, " but they, too, could bring him to 

Learning from this how useless the tremendous 
powers conferred upon them by their charter really 
were, the Stationers' Company took a wiser course 
and subscribed .15,000 to print the books in which 
they had the exclusive property. 

The " entry " of copies at Stationers' Hall was 
commenced in 1558, but without the delivery of any 
books, and these entries seem originally to have been 
intended by the booksellers of the Company to make 
known to each other their respective copyrights, and 
to act as advertisements of the works thus entered. 
Haifa century later, Sir Thomas Bodley was appointed 

Richard Grafton, English Printer and Historian. Died after 1572. 
The first printer of the Common Prayer. 

John Wight or Wygbte. Was living in 1551. A printer of law books. 


librarian at Oxford, and so great was his zeal for 
obtaining books that he persuaded the Company of 
Stationers in London to give him a copy of every 
book that was printed, and this voluntary offering 
was rendered compulsory by the celebrated Licensing 
Act of 1663, which prohibited the publication of any 
book unless licensed by the Lord Chamberlain, and 
entered in the Stationers' Registers, and which fixed 
the number of copies to be presented gratis at three. 
In the reign of William and Mary the liberty of the 
press was restored, but in the new Act the door was 
unfortunately thrown open to infractions of literary 
property by clandestine editions of books, and in the 
following reign the property of copyright was secured 
for fourteen years, though the perpetuity of copyright 
was still vulgarly believed in, and, by the better class 
of booksellers, still respected. The number of com- 
pulsory presentation copies was gradually increased 
to eleven, forming a very heavy tax upon expensive 
books, and was only in our own times reduced to five. 
At present the registration of books 'at Stationers' 
Hall is quite independent of the presentations, which 
are still compulsory. The fee for the registration or 
assignment of a copyright is five shillings. 

By the end of the last century all the privileges 
and monopolies of the Company had been shredded 
away till they had nothing left but the right to pub- 
lish a common Latin primer and almanacs. In 1775 
J. Carnan,* an enterprizing tradesman, questioning 
the legality of the latter monopoly, published an 

* Carnan is said, by Mr. Knight, to have been so frequently pro- 
secuted that_he invariably kept a clean shirt in his pocket, that he 
might lessen the inconvenience of being carried off unexpectedly to 


almanac on his own account, and defended himself 
against an action brought by the Company in which 
the monopoly was declared worthless. As, however, 
the Company still paid the Universities for the lease 
of the sole right to publish almanacs, they endeavoured 
to recover their privilege by Act of Parliament, but 
were defeated by Erskine in a memorable speech, 
who showed that, while supposed to be protectors of 
the order and the decencies of the press, the Company 
had not only entirely omitted to exercise their duties, 
but that, even in using their privileges, they had, to 
increase their revenue, printed, in the " Poor Robin's " 
and other almanacs, the most revolting indecencies ; 
and the question was decided against them. 

The " earliest men of letters" if we accept the 
word in its modern meaning of those who earn their 
bread by their pens were the dramatists ; but the 
publication of their plays was a mere appendix to the 
acting thereof, and Shakespeare never drew a penny 
from the printing of his works. The Elizabethan 
dramatists the Greenes and Marlowes led a life of 
wretchedness only paralleled later on by the annals of 
Grub Street. As the use of the printing press ex- 
panded, however, a race of authors by profession sprang 
into existence. At the time of the Commonwealth 
James Howell, author of the " Epistolse Ho-elianae," 
who was thrown into the Fleet prison, appears to 
have made his bread by scribbling for the booksellers ; 
Thomas Fuller, also, was among the first, as well as 
the quaintest, hack-writers ; he observes, in the preface 
to his " Worthies," that no stationers have hitherto 
lost by him. His " Holy State " was reprinted four 
times before the Restoration, but the publisher con- 
tinued to describe the last two impressions, on the 

Rayne Wolfe. 

Paul's Churchyard. 

King Henry VIII. 's 

John Day or Daye. " A famous printer. He lived GVJV Aldgate." 


title page, as only the third edition, as if he were 
unwilling that the extent of the popularity should be 
known a fact probably unprecedented. But still 
the great writers had either private means, or lived 
on the patronage of rank and wealth ; for the reward 
of a successful book in those days did not lie in so 
much hard cash from one's publisher, but in hopes of 
favour and places from the great. The famous agree- 
ment between Milton and Samuel Simmons, a printer, 
is one of the earliest authenticated agreements of 
copy money being given for an original work ; it was 
executed on April 2/th, 1667, and disposes of the 
copyright of " Paradise Lost " for the present sum 
of five pounds, and five pounds more when 1300 
copies of the first impression should be sold in retail, 
and the like sum at the end of the second and third 
editions, to be accounted as aforesaid ; and tJiat (each 
of) the said first three impressions sJiall not exceed 
fifteen books or volumes of tlie said manuscript. The 
price of the small quarto edition was three shillings 
in a plain binding. Probably, as Sir Walter Scott 
remarks, the trade had no very good bargain of it, for 
the first impression of the poem does not seem to 
have been sold off before the expiration of seven 
years, nor till the bookseller (in accordance with a 
practice nor confined solely to that age) had given it 
five new title-pages. The second five pounds was 
received by Milton, and in 1680, for the present sum 
of eight pounds, his widow resigned all further right 
in the copyright, and thus the poem was sold for 
eighteen pounds instead of the stipulated twenty. 
The whole transaction must be regarded rather as an 
entire novelty, than as an example of a bookseller's 
meannessa view too often unjustly taken. 


The first " eminent man of letters " was Dryden, 
who serves us as a connecting link between those who 
earned their livelihood by writing for the stage and 
those who earned it by working for the booksellers, 
and the first "eminent publisher" was Jacob Ton- 
son, his bookseller. Dryden, like his predecessors, 
commenced life as a dramatist, but in his times plays 
acquired a marketable value elsewhere than on the 
stage. Before Tonson started, Dryden's works almost 
entirely plays were sold by Herringman, the chief 
bookseller in London, says Mr. Peter Cunningham, 
before Tonson's time ; but now only remembered 
because Dryden lodged at his house, taking his money 
out in kind, as authors then often did. 

Jacob Tonson, born in 1656, was the son of a bar- 
ber-surgeon in Holborn, who died when his two sons 
were both very young, leaving them each a hundred 
pounds to be paid them on their coming of age. The 
two lads resolved to become printers and booksellers, 
and, at fourteen, Jacob was apprenticed to Thomas 
Barnet. After serving the usual term of seven 
years he was admitted to the freedom of the Sta- 
tioners' Company, and immediately commenced busi- 
ness with his small capital at the Judge's House, in 
Chancery Lane, close to the corner of Fleet Street. 
Like many other publishers he began trade by selling 
second-hand books and those produced by other firms, 
but he soon issued plays on his own account ; finding, 
however, that the works of Otway and Tate, which were 
among his first attempts, had no very extensive sale, 
he boldly made a bid for Dryden's next play, but the 
twenty pounds required by the author was too great a 
venture for his small capital, so " Troilus and Cressida ; 
or Truth found too Late," was published conjointly by 

Jacob Tonson. 

(From the Portrait by Kneller.} 


Tonson and Levalle in 1679. This connection with 
Dryden, which lasted till the poet's death, was of 
only less importance to the furtherance of Tonson's 
fortune than a bargain concluded four years later 
with Brabazon Aylmer for one half of his interest in 
the "Paradise Lost," which Dryden told him was -one 
of the greatest poems England had ever produced. 
Still he waited four years before he ventured to pub- 
lish, and then only by the safe method of subscription, 
and in 1788 the folio edition came out, and by the 
sale of this and future editions Tonson was, according 
to Disraeli, enabled to keep his carriage. The other 
moiety of the copyright was subsequently purchased. 
There is a pleasant description of Tonson, in these 
early days, in a short poem by Rowe : 

" While in your early days of reputation 
You for blue garter had not such a passion, 
While yet you did not live, as now your trade is, 
To drink with noble lords and toast their ladies, 
Thou Jacob Tonson, wert, to my conceiving, 
The cheerfullest, best honest fellow living." 

From John Dunton, the bookseller, we get the 
following description : " He was bookseller to the 
famous Dryden, and is himself a very good judge of 
persons and authors ; and, as there is nobody more 
competently qualified to give their opinion upon 
another, so there is none who does it with a more 
severe exactness, or with less partiality ; for, to do 
Mr. Tonson justice, he speaks his mind upon all 
occasions, and will flatter nobody." 

Not only did Tonson first make " Paradise Lost " 
popular, but some years afterwards he was the first 
bookseller to throw Shakespeare open to a reading 


Then, as now, however, the works in most urgent de- 
mand were " novelties," and with these Dryden supplied 
his publisher as fast almost as pen could drive upon 
paper. From the correspondence between Dryden 
and Tonson, printed in Scott's edition of the poet's 
works, they seem to have been privately on very 
friendly terms, falling out only when agreements were 
to be signed or payments to be made. Tonson was 
at this time publishing what are sometimes known as 
Tonson's, sometimes as Dryden s, Miscellany Poems. 
written, so the title-pages averred, by the " most 
eminent hands." Apropos of this, Pope writes, 
" Jacob creates poets as kings create knights, not for 
their honour, but for their money. I can be satisfied 
with a bare saving gain without being thought an 
eminent hand." The first volume of the " Miscellany" 
was published in 1684, and the second in the follow- 
ing year, and of this second, Dryden writes, after 
thanking the bookseller for two melons " since we 
are to have nothing but new, I am resolved we shall 
have nothing but good, whomever we disoblige." 
The third "Miscellany" was published in 1693, and 
Tonson sends an earnest letter of remonstrance anent 
the amount of " copy" received of the translation of 
Ovid : " You may please, sir, to remember that upon 
my first proposal about the third 'Miscellany,' I offered 
fifty pounds, and talked of several authors without 
naming Ovid. You asked if it should not be guineas, 
and said I should not repent it ; upon which I imme- 
diately complied, and left it wholly to you what, and 
for the quantity too ; and I declare it was the furthest 
in the world from my thoughts that by leaving it to 
you I should have the less." He proceeds to show 
that Dryden had sold a previous, though recent trans- 


lation to another bookseller at the rate of 1518 lines 
for forty guineas, while he adds, " all that I have for 
fifty guineas are but 1446 ; so that if I have no more, 
I pay ten guineas above forty, and have 72 lines less 
for fifty in proportion. I own, if you don't think fit 
to add something more, I must submit ; 'tis wholly at 
your choice, for I left it entirely to you ; but I believe 
you cannot imagine I expected so little ; for you were 
pleased to use me much kindlier in Juvenal, which is 
not reckoned so easy to translate as Ovid. Sir, I 
humbly beg your pardon for this long letter, and, 
upon my word, I had rather have your good will than 
any man's alive." 

These were hard times for Dryden, for through the 
change of government he had been deprived of the 
laureateship, and it is little likely that Tonson ever 
received hi's additional lines or recovered his money. 
Frequent at this period were the bickerings between 
them. On one occasion, the bookseller having re- 
fused to advance a sum of money, the poet forwarded 
the following triplet with the significant message, 
"Tell the dog that he who wrote these lines can write 
more :" 

" With leering looks, bull-faced and freckled fair, 
With two left legs, with Judas-coloured hair, 
And frowsy pores that taint the ambient air." 

The descriptive hint is said to have been successful. 
On another occasion, when Bolingbroke was visiting 
Dryden, they heard a footstep. " This," said Dryden, 
" is Tonson ; you will take care not to depart before 
he goes away ; for I have not completed the sheet 
which I promised him ; and, if you leave me un- 
protected, I shall suffer all the rudeness to which re- 

2 2 


sentment can prompt his tongue." And yet, almost at 
this period, we find Dryden writing, " I am much 
ashamed of myself that I am so much behindhand 
with you in kindness." 

Dryden's translations of the classics had been most 
successful in selling off the " Miscellanies " very 
rapidly, and Tonson now induced the author, by the 
offer of very liberal terms; to commence a translation 
of Virgil. As usual, the preliminary terms were to 
be settled in a tavern a custom between authors and 
booksellers that seems to have been universal. " Be 
ready/' writes Dryden, " with the price of paper, and 
of the books. No matter for any dinner ; for that is 
& charge to you, and I care not for it. Mr. Congreve 
may be with us as a- common friend." There were two 
classes of subscribers, the first of whom paid five 
guineas each, and were individually honoured with 
the dedication of a plate, with their arms engraved 
underneath ; the second class paid two guineas only. 
The first class numbered 101, and the second 250, 
and the money thus received, minus the expense of 
the engravings, was handed over to Dryden, who re- 
ceived in addition from Tonson fifty guineas a book 
for the Georgics and jEneid, and probably the same 
for the Pastorals collectively. But the price actually 
charged to the subscribers of the second class appears 
to have been exorbitant, and reduced the amount of 
Dryden's profits to about twelve or thirteen hun- 
dred pounds still a very large sum in those days. 
Frequent, however, were the disputes between them 
during the progress of the work. The currency at 
this time was terribly deteriorated, In October, 
1695, the poet writes, "I expect fifty pounds in good 
silver : not such as I have had formerly. I am not 

Richard Jones, Jhones, or Johnes, English Printer. Was living in 1571. 

John Dunton. 


obliged to take gold, neither will I ; nor stay for it 
beyond four-and-twenty hours after it is due." Good 
silver, however, was very scarce, and was at a pre- 
mium of forty per cent ; so after a year's wrangling 
he had to put iap witfi the fate of all who then sold 
labour for money. " The Notes and Queries," con- 
tinues Dryden, perhaps as a gibe at Jacob's parsi- 
mony, " shall be short ; because you shall get the 
more by saving paper." Again he attacks him, this 
time half playfully : " Upon trial I find all of your 
trade are sharpers, and you not more than others ; 
therefore I have not wholly left you." Tonson all 
along wished to dedicate the work to King William, 
but Dryden, a staunch Tory, would not yield a tittle 
of his political principles, so the bookseller consoled 
himself by slyly ordering all the pictures of ^Eneas in 
the engravings to be drawn with William's charac- 
teristic hooked nose ; a manoeuvre that gave rise to 
the following : 

" Old Jacob, by deep judgments swayed, 

To please the wise beholders, 
Has placed old Nassau's hook-nosed head 

On young /Eneas' shoulders. 
" To make the parallel hold tack, 

Methinks there's little lacking ; 
One took his father pick-a-back, 
And t'other sent his packing." 

In December, 1699, Dryden finished his last work, 
the "Fables," for which "ten thousand verses "he was 
paid the sum of two hundred and fifty guineas, with 
fifty more to be added at the beginning of the second 
impression. In this volume was included his Ode to 
St. Cecilia, which had first been performed at the 
Music Feast kept in Stationers' Hall, on the 22nd of 
November, 1697. 


In 1700 the poet died, but Tonson was by this time 
in affluent circumstances. 

About the date of Dryden's death, probably before 
it, as kis portrait was included among the other mem- 
bers, the famous Kit-Cat Club was founded by Ton- 
son. Various are the derivations of the club. The 
most circumstantial account of its origin is given by 
the scurrilous writer, Ned Ward, in his "Secret His- 
tory of Clubs." It was established, he says, " by an 
amphibious mortal, chief merchant to the Muses, to 
inveigle new profitable chaps, who, having more wit 
than experience, put but a slender value as yet upon 
their maiden performances.'"' (Tonson must have 
been a rare publisher if he found " new chaps" to be 
in any way profitable.) With the usual custom of the 
times, Tonson was always ready to give his author, 
especially upon concluding a bargain, wherewithal to 
drink, but he now proposed to add pastry in the shape 
of mutton pies, and, according to Ward, promises to 
make the meeting weekly, provided his clients would 
give him the first refusal of their productions. This 
generous proposal was very readily agreed to by 
the whole poetic class, and the cook's name being 
Christopher, called for brevity Kit, and his sign the 
Cat and Fiddle, they very merrily derived a quaint 
denomination from puss and her master, and from 
thence called themselves the Kit-Cat Club. Accord- 
ing to Arbuthnot, their toasting-glasses had verses 
upon them in honour of "old cats and young kits," 
and many of these toasts were printed in Tonson's 
fifth "Miscellany." At first they- met in Shire Lane, 
(Ward says Gray's Inn Lane), and subsequently at 
the Fountain Tavern in the Strand. In a short time 
the chief men of letters having joined the club, 


" many of the quality grew fond of sharing the ever- 
lasting honour that was likely to crown the poetical 
society." Sir Godfrey Kneller, himself a member, 
painted portraits of all the members, commencing 
with the Duke of Somerset, and these were hung 
round the club-room at Tonson's country house at 
Water Oakeley, where the members of the club were 
in after-times wont to meet. The tone of the club- 
room became decidedly political, and interesting as 
it is, our space forbids us to do more than give the 
following lines from "Faction Displayed" (1705), 
which, by-the-way, quotes Dryden's threatening triplet, 
already alluded to : 

" I am the Touchstone of all modern wit ; 
Without my stump, in vain you poets writ. 
Those only purchase everlasting fame 
That in my ' Miscellany' plant their name. 
I am the founder of your loved Kit-Kat, 
A Club that gave direction to the state. 
'Twas here we first instructed all our youth 
To talk profane and laugh at sacred truth ; 
We taught them how to toast and rhyme and bite, 
To sleep away the day, and drink away the night." 

By this time Tonson had taken his nephew into 
partnership, had left his old shop in Chancery Lane, 
and changed his sign from the "Judge's Head" to the 
" Shakespeare's Head ;" and he and his descendants 
had certainly a right to the latter symbol, for the 
editions of Rowe, Pope, Theobald, Warburton, John- 
son, and Capell, were all associated with their name. 
The following schedule of the prices paid to the 
various editors possesses some bibliographical in- 
terest : 


* d. 
Rowe... ,,. ... ... 36 10 o 

Hughes 28 7 o 

Pope 217 12 o 

Fenton ... . !f ... 30 14 o 

Ga y ... ... 35 17 6 

Whalley ... ... ... 12 o o 

Theobald 652 10 o 

Warburton ... ... ... 500 o o 

Capell 300 o o 

Dr. Johnson, for ist edition . 375 o o 

for 2nd edition . 100 o o 

Upon Dryden's death Tonson had looked round 
anxiously for a likely successor, and - had made 
humble overtures to Pope, and in his later " Miscel- 
lanies" appeared some of Pope's earliest writings ; but 
Pope soon deserted to Tonson's only rival Bernard 
Lintot, who also opposed him in an offer to publish 
a work of Dr. Young's. The poet answered both 
letters the same morning, but unfortunately cross- 
directed them : in the one intended for Tonson he 
said that Lintot was so great a scoundrel that printing 
with him was out of the question, and in Lintot's that 
Tonson was an old rascal. 

Jacob Tonson died in 1736, and is reported on his 
death-bed to have said " I wish I had the world to 
begin again, because then I should have died worth a 
hundred thousand pounds, whereas now I die worth 
only eighty thousand ;" a very improbable story, for, 
in spite of Dryden's complaints, Tonson seems to 
have been a generous man for the times, and to have 
fully earned his title of the " prince of booksellers." 
His nephew died a few months before this, and was 
succeeded by his son, Jacob Tonson the third, who 
carried on the business in the same shop opposite 
Catherine Street in the Strand, until his removal 


across the road, only a short time before his death. 
He died in 1767, when the time-honoured name was 
erased from the list of booksellers. 

Bernard Lintot, or, as he originally wrote his name, 
Barnaby Lintott, was the son of a Sussex yeoman, 
and commenced business as a bookseller at the sign of 
the Cross Keys, between the Temple Gates, in the year 
1700. He is thus characterized by John Dunton " He 
lately published a collection of Tragic' Tales, &c., by 
which I perceive he is angry with the world, and scorns 
it into the bargain ; and I cannot blame him : for 
D'Urfey (his author) both treats and esteems it as it 
deserves ; too hard a task for those whom it flatters ; 
or perhaps for Bernard himself, should the world ever 
change its humour and grin upon him. However, to 
do Mr. Lintot justice, he is a man of very good prin- 
ciples, and I dare engage will never want an author of 
Sol-fa* so long as the play-house will encourage his 
comedies." The world, however, did grin upon him, 
for in 1712 he set up a " Miscellany" intended to rival 
Tonson's, and here appeared the first sketch of the 
" Rape of the Lock," and this introduction to Pope 
was to turn out of as much importance in his fortunes 
as the previous connection with Dryden had been to 

A memorandum-book, preserved by Nichols, con- 
tains an exact account of the money paid by Lintot 
to his various authors. Here are the receipts for 
Pope's entire works : 

J. d. 

1712, Feb. 19. Statius, first book ; Vertumnus and Pomona 16 2 6 
1712, March 21. First edition of the Rape 700 

* D'Urfey was a music-master. 


1712, April 9. To a Lady presenting Voiture upon Silence s. d. 

to the author of a Poem called Successio ... ... 3 16 6 

1712-13, Feb. 23. Windsor Forest 32 5 o 

1713, July 22. Ode on St. Cecilia's Day 15 o o 

1714, Feb. 20. Additions to the Rape 15 o o 

1715, Feb. i. Temple of Fame 32 5 o 

1715, April 31. Key to the Lock 10 15 o 

1716, July 17. Essay on Criticism ... ... ... ... 15 o o 

In 1712 Pope, mindful of Dryden's success, com- 
menced his translation of Homer, and in 1714 Lin- 
tot, equally mindful probably of the profits Tonson 
had derived from Virgil, made a splendid offer for its 
publication. He agreed to provide at his own ex- 
pense all the subscription and presentation copies, 
and in addition to pay the author two hundred pounds 
per volume. The Homer was to consist of six quarto 
volumes, to be delivered to subscribers, as completed, 
at a guinea a volume, and through the unremitting 
labours of the poet's literary and political friends, six 
hundred and fifty-four copies were delivered at the 
original rate, and Pope realized altogether the munifi- 
cent sum of five thousand, three hundred and twenty 
pounds, four shillings. 

It was probably just after the publication of the 
first volume, in August, 1714, that Pope wrote his 
exquisitely humorous letter to th.e Earl of Burling- 
ton, describing a journey to Oxford, made in com- 
pany with Lintot. " My lord, if your mare could 
speak, she would give an account of what extraordi- 
nary company she had on the road ; which since she 
cannot do, I will." Lintot had heard that Pope was 
" designed for Oxford, the seat of the Muses, and 
would, as my bookseller, by all means accompany me 
thither .... Mr. Lintot began in this manner : ' Now, 


damn them, what if they should put it in the news- 
papers, how you and I went together to Oxford ? 
What would I care ? If I should go down into Sus- 
sex, they would say I was gone to the Speaker. But 
what of that ? If my son were but big enough to go 
on with the business, by God ! I would keep as good 
company as old Jacob/ ... As Mr. Lintot was talking 
I observed he sat uneasy on his saddle, for which I ex- 
pressed some solicitude. ' Tis nothing,' says he ; ' I 
can bear it well enough, but since we have the day 
before us, methinks it would be very pleasant for you 
to rest awhile under "the woods.' When we alighted, 
'See here, what a mighty pretty Horace I have in 
my pocket ! what if you amused yourself by turning 
an ode, till we mount again ? Lord, if you pleased, 
what a clever Miscellany might you make at leisure 
hours.' 'Perhaps I may,' said I, 'if we ride on; 
the motion is an aid to my fancy, a round trot very 
much awakens my spirits ; then jog on apace, and I'll 
think as hard as I can.' 

"Silence ensued for a full hour, after which Mr. 
Lintot tugged the reins, stopped short and broke out, 
' Well, sir, how far have you gone ?' I answered, 
* Seven miles.' ' Zounds, sir,' said Lintot, ' I thought 
you had done seven stanzas. Oldworth, in a ramble 
round Wimbleton hill, would translate a whole ode in 
half this time. I'll say that for Oldworth (though I 
lost by his Sir Timothy's), he translates an ode of 
Horace the quickest of any man in England. I 
remember Dr. King would write verses in a tavern 
three hours after he could not speak ; and there's Sir 
Richard, in that rambling old chariot of his, between 
Fleet ditch and St. Giles's pound shall make half a 
job.' 'Pray, Mr. Lintot,' said I, 'now you talk of 


translators, what is your method of managing them ?' 
' Sir/ replied he, ' those are the saddest pack of rogues 
in the world ; in a hungry fit, they'll swear they 
understand all the languages in the universe. I have 
known one of them take down a Greek book upon my 
counter and cry, Ay, this is Hebrew. I must read 
it from the latter end. My God ! I can never be 
sure of those fellows, for I neither understand Greek, 
Latin, French nor Italian myself.' ' Pray tell me 
next how you deal with the critics.' ' Sir, said he, 
' nothing more easy. I can silence the most formid- 
able of them ; the rich ones for a sheet a-piece of the 
blotted manuscript, which costs me nothing ; they'll 
go about to their acquaintance and pretend they had 
it from the author, who submitted to their correction : 
this has given some of them such an air, that in time 
they come to be consulted with, and dictated to as 
the top critic of the town. As for the poor critics, I'll 
give you one instance of my management, by which 
you may guess at the rest. A lean man, that looks 
like a very good scholar, came to me t'other day ; he 
turned over your Homer, shook his head, shrugged 
up his shoulders, and pished at every line of it. One 
would wonder, says he, at the strange presumption 
of some men ; Homer is no such easy task, that every 
stripling, every versifier He was going on, when my 
wife called to dinner. ' Sir,' said I, 'will you please 
to eat a piece of beef with me ?' 'Mr. Lintot,' said 
he, ' I am sorry you should be at the expense of this 
great book ; I am really concerned on your account.' 
' Sir, I am much obliged to you ; if you can dine 
upon a piece of beef, together with a slice of pudding.' 
' Mr. Lintot, I do not say but Mr. Pope, if he would 
condescend to advise with men of learning ' ' Sir, the 


pudding is on the table, if you please to go in.' My 
critic complies, he comes to a taste of your poetry, 
and tells me in the same breath that the book is com- 
mendable and the pudding excellent. These, my 
lord, are a few traits by which you may discern the 
genius of Mr. Lintot, which I have chosen for the 
subject of a letter. I dropt him as soon as I got to 

Pope's Iliad took longer in coming out than was 
expected. Gay writes facetiously, " Mr. Pope's Homer 
is retarded by the great rains that have fallen of late, 
which causes the sheets to be long a-drying." How- 
ever, in 1718, the six volumes had been completely 
delivered to the subscribers, and three days after- 
wards Tonson announced, as a rival, the first book of 
Homer's Iliad, translated by Mr. Tickell. " I send 
the book," writes Lintot to Pope, " to divert an hour, 
it is already condemned here ; and the malice and 
juggle at Button's (for Addison had assisted Tickell 
in the attempted rivalry) is the conversation of those 
who have spare moments from politics." 

Lintot intended to reimburse his expenses by a 
cheap edition, but here he was anticipated by the 
piratical dealers, who caused a cheap edition to be 
published in Holland ; a nefarious proceeding that 
Lintot met by bringing out a duodecimo edition at 
half-a-crown a volume, " finely printed from an Elzevir 

The Odyssey was published in 1725, likewise by 
subscription, and Pope gained nearly three thousand 
pounds by the transaction, avowing, however, that he 
had only "undertaken" the translation, and had 
been assisted by friends; and "undertaker Pope" 
became a favourite byword among his many unfriendly 


contemporaries. Lintot was, however, disappointed 
with his share of the profits, and, pretending to have 
found something invalid in the agreement, threatened 
a suit in Chancery. Pope denied this, quarrelled, and 
finally left him, and turned his rancour to good 
account in the pages of the Dunciad. 

By this time Lintot's fortunes were firmly assured. 
Pope was, says Mr. Singer, "at first apprehensive that 
the contract (for the Iliad] might ruin Lintot, and 
endeavoured to dissuade him from thinking any more 
of it. The event, however, proved quite the reverse. 
The success of the work was so unparalleled as to at 
once enrich the bookseller, and prove a productive 
estate to his family," and he must have certainly been 
progressing when Humphrey Walden, custodian of 
the Earl of Oxford's heraldic manuscripts, made, in 
1726, the following entry in his diary : "Young Mr. 
Lintot, the bookseller, came inquiring after arms, as 
belonging to his father, mother and other relations, 
who now, it seems, want to turn gentlefolks. I could 
find none of their names." " Young Mr. Lintot" was 
Bernard's son and successor Henry. 

There was scarcely a writer of eminence in the 
"Augustan Era," whose name is not to be found in 
Lintot's little account book of moneys paid. In 1730, 
however, he appears to have relinquished his business 
and retired to Horsham in Sussex, for which county 
he was nominated High Sheriff, in November, 1735, 
an honour which he did not live to enjoy, and which 
was consequently transferred to his son. Henry 
Lintot died in 1758, leaving 45,000 to his only 
daughter, Catherine. 

Edmund Curll is, perhaps, as a name, better known 
to casual readers than any other bookseller of this 


period, and it is not a little comforting to find that 
the obloquy with which he has ever been associated 
was richly merited. He was born in the west of 
England, and after passing through several menial 
capacities, became a bookseller's assistant, and then 
kept a stall in the purlieus of Covent Garden. The 
year of his birth is unknown, and the writer of a con- 
temporary memoir, The Life and Writings of E. C /, 
who prophesied that " if he go on in the paths of glory 
he has hitherto trod," his name would appear in the 
Newgate Calendar, has unluckily been deceived. He 
appears to have first commenced publishing in the 
year 1708, and to have combined that honourable 
task with the vending of quack pills and powders for 
the afflicted. The first book he published was An 
Explication of a Famous Passage in the Dialogue of 
St. Justin Martyr with Typhon, concerning the Immor- 
tality of 'Hitman Souls, bearing the date of 1708 ; and, 
curiously enough, religious books formed in aftertime 
a very large portion of his stock, side by side, of 
course, with the most filthy and ribald works that 
have ever been issued. 

In 1716 began his quarrel with Pope, originating as 
far as we know in the publication of the Court Poems, 
the advertisement of which said that the coffee-house 
critics assigned them either to a Lady of Quality, Mr. 
Gay, or the translator of Homer. It is not clear now 
whether Pope was really annoyed by the appearance 
of the volume, or whether he had first secretly pro- 
moted it, and then endeavoured to divert suspicion. 
At all events, he had a meeting with Curll at the 
" Swan Tavern," in Fleet Street, where, writes the 
bookseller, " My brother, Lintot, drank his half-pint 
of old hock, Mr, Pope his half-pint of sack, and I the 


same quantity of an emetic powder ; but no threaten- 
ings past. Mr. Pope, indeed, said that no satire 
should be printed (tho' he has now changed his mind). 
I answered that they should not be wrote, for if they 
were they would be printed." Curll, on entering the 
tavern, declared he had been poisoned, and for months 
the town was amused with broadsides and pamphlets 
relative to the affair. Pope afterwards published his 
version of the story in his Miscellanies; the " Full and 
True Account" is, however, as gross and unquotable 
as Curll's own worst publication. 

Later on in the same year the bookseller fell into a 
fresh scrape. A Latin discourse had been pronounced 
at the funeral of Robert South by the captain of 
Westminster School, and Curll, thinking it would be 
readily purchased by the public, 

"did th' oration print, 
Imperfect, with false Latin in't," 

and thereby aroused the anger of the Westminster 
scholars, who enticed him into Dean's Yard on the 
pretence of giving him a more perfect copy ; there, he 
met with a college salutation, for he was first pre- 
sented with the ceremony of the blanket, in which, 
" when the skeleton had been well shook, he was car- 
ried in triumph to the school, and, after receiving a 
mathematical construction for his false concords, he 
was re-conducted to Dean's Yard, and on his knees 
asking pardon of the aforesaid Mr. Barber (the cap- 
tain whose Latin he had murdered) for his offence, 
he was kicked out of the yard, and left to the huzzas 
of the rabble." 

No sooner was Curll out of one scrape than he fell 
nto another ; for, still in this same year, he was sum- 


moned to the bar of the House of Lords for printing 
and publishing a paper entitled An Account of the 
Trial of the Earl of Winton, a breach of the stand- 
ing orders of the House. However, having received 
kneeling a reprimand from the Lord Chancellor, he 
was dismissed upon payment of the fees. 

While the authorities were quick enough to punish 
any violation of their own peculiar privileges, they 
were graciously pleased to wink at the perpetual 
offences Curll was committing against public morals, 
for Curll was a strong politician on the safe party 
side, and in his political publications had in view the 
interests of the government. However, he was at- 
tacked on all sides by public opinion and the press. 
Mist's Weekly Journal for April 5, 1718, contained 
a very strong article on the " Sin of Curllicism." 
" There is indeed but one bookseller eminent among 
us for this abomination, and from him the crime 
takes its just denomination of Curllicism. The fellow 
is a contemptible wretch a thousand ways ; he is 
odious in his person, scandalous in his fame ; . . . 
more beastly, insufferable books have been published 
by this one offender than in thirty years before by all 
the nation." Curll, "the Dauntless," did not long 
remain in silence, and his reply is characteristically 
outspoken, for the writer was never a coward. " Your 
superannuated letter-writer was never more out than 
when he asserted that Curllicism was but of four 
years' standing. Poor wretch ! he is but a novice in 
chronology;" and then, after threatening the journalist 
with the terrors of an outraged government, he con- 
cludes "in the words of a late eminent controvertist, 
the Dean of Chichester." 

Curll was fond of the dignitaries of the Church, and 



endeavoured to play a shrewd trick upon one of 
them ; he sent a copy of Lord Rochester's Poems 
(certainly not the most innocent book he published) 
to Dr. Robinson, Bishop of London, with a tender of 
his duty, and a request that his lordship would please 
to revise the interleaved volume as he thought fit ; 
but the bishop, not to be caught, " smiled" and said, 
" I am told that Mr. Curll is a shrewd man, and 
should I revise the book you have brought me, he 
would publish it as approved by me."* 

Public dissatisfaction seems to have been expressed 
more forcibly against Curll than heretofore, and to 
have taken the form of a remonstrance to govern- 
ment, for he published The Humble Representation 
of Edmund Curll, Bookseller and Citizen of London, 
containing Five Books complained of to the Secretary. 
As the books were eminently of a nature requiring 
an apology, we cannot do more than give their titles : 
I. The Translation of Mcibomius and Tractatus de 
Hermaphroditic ; 2. Venus in the Cloister ; 3. ,E brie- 
tat is Encomium; 4. Three Neiu Poems, viz. Family 
Duty, The Curious Wife, and Buckingham House ; 
and 5. DC Sccretis Mulierum. At last the govern- 
ment did interfere, as we learn from a notice in Boyers 
Political State, Nov. 1725 : 

"On Nov. 30, 1725, Curll, a bookseller in the Strand, 
was tried at the King's Bench Bar, Westminster, and 
convicted of printing and publishing several obscene 
and immodest books, greatly tending to the corruption 
and depravation of manners, particularly one trans- 
lated from a Latin treatise entitled De Usu Fla- 
grorum in Re Venerca ; and another from a French 

* This anecdote is often incorrectly related of Wilkes and the Essay 
on Woman, 


book called La Religieuse en Chemise" In the in- 
dictment Curll is thus accurately summed up : homo 
iniquus et sceleratus ac nequiter machinans et intendens 
bonos mores subditorum Jmjus regni corrnmpere et eos 
ad nequitiam inducere ; and in the State Trials we 
read the following report of the sentence : 

"This Edmund Curll stood in the pillory at Charing 
Cross, but was not pelted or used ill ; for being an 
artful, cunning (though wicked) fellow, he had con- 
trived to have printed papers dispersed all about 
Charing Cross, telling the people how he stood there 
for vindicating the memory of Queen Anne." 

It does, in fact, appear that he received three sen- 
tences at once, and that not until Feb. 12, 1728. 
For publishing the Nun in her Smock, and the treatise 
De Usu Flagrorurn, he was sentenced to pay a fine of 
twenty-five marks each, and to enter into recogni- 
zances of ;ioo for his good behaviour for one year; 
but for publishing the Memoirs of Jo Jin Ker of 
Ker stand, Esq. (a political offence), he was fined 
twenty marks, and ordered to stand in the pillory for 
the space of one hour.* 

In 1729 Curll was again pilloried this time by 
Pope in the Dunciad, in connection with Tonson and 
Lintot : 

" With authors, stationers obey'd the call 
(The field of glory is a field for all) ; 
Glory and gain th' industrious tribe provoke, 
And gentle Dulness ever loves a joke ; 
A poet's form she placed before their eyes, 
And bade the nimblest racer seize the prize. 

The Daily Post, Feb. 13, 1728. 


Lofty Lintot in the circle rose: 

* The Prize is mine, who 'tempts it are my foes; 
With me began this genius, and shall end.' 
He spoke, and who with Lintot shall contend? 

" Fear held them mute. Alone untaught to fear, 
Stood dauntless Curll : ' Behold that rival here ! 
The race by vigour, not by vaunts, is won : 
So take the hindmost, hell,' he said, 'and run.' 
Swift as a bard the bailiff leaves behind 
He left huge Lintot, and outstript the wind. 
As when a dab-chick waddles through the copse 
On feet and wings, and flies, and wades, and hops, 
So labouring on with shoulders, hands, and head, 
Wide as a windmill all his figure spread, 
With arms expanded Bernard views his state^ 
And left-legged Jacob seems to emulate." 

And finally Curll stumbles into an unsavoury pool : 

" Obscene with filth the miscreant lies bewrayed, 
Fallen in the plash his wickedness had laid ; 
Then first (if poets aught of truth declare) 
The caitiff vaticide conceived a prayer. " 

In reference to Curll there is a note to this passage, 
" He carried the trade many lengths beyond what it 
ever before had arrived at ; he was the envy and 
admiration of all his profession. He possessed him- 
self of a command over all authors whatever; he 
caused them to write what he pleased ; they could not 
call their very names their own. He was not only 
famous among them ; he was taken notice of by the 
state, the church, and the law, and received particular 
marks of distinction from each." 

We have no space to discuss the vexed question as 
to how the letters of Pope published by Curll came 
into his hands the discussion would occupy a volume 
and remain a moot question after all. But we are 
disposed to believe with Johnson and Disraeli that 
" being inclined to print his own letters, and not 


knowing how to do so without the imputation of 
vanity, what in this country has been done very rarely, 
he contrives an appearance of compulsion ; that when 
he could complain that his letters were surreptitiously 
published, he might decently and defensively publish 
them himself." The letters at all events were genuine, 
and Pope in a feigned or real indignation caused Curll 
to be brought for a third time (the second had been 
for publishing the Duke of Buckingham's words) be- 
fore the bar of the House of Lords for disobeying its 
standard rules ; but on examination the book was 
not found to contain any letters from a. peer, and Curll 
was dismissed, and boldly continued the publication 
till five volumes had been issued. 

In spite, or perhaps on account of the unblushing 
effrontery with which he run amuck at everything 
and everybody, Curll was a successful man, as his 
repeated removals to better and better premises 
plainly testifies. Over his best shop in Covent 
Garden he erected the Bible as a sign. He has had 
many apologists, among others worthy John Nichols, 
as deserving commendation for his industry in pre- 
serving our national remains, but the scavenger, when 
he gathers his daily filth, lays little claim to doing 
a meritorious action, he only works unpleasantly for 
his daily bread ; and it has been the repeated cry of 
publishers, even in our own times, in reproducing an 
immoral book, that they were wishing only for the 
preservation of something rare and curious. It were 
not well that any book once written should ever 
die, that any one link in the vast chain of human 
thought should ever be irrecoverably lost, but the 
publisher of such a book must, at least, bear the 
same penalty of stigma as the author, for he has not 


even the author's self-vanity as an excuse, but only 
the still more wretched plea of mercenary motive. 
We will conclude our notice of Curll by an extract 
from " John Buncle," by Thomas Amory, who knew 
him personally and well. " Curll was in person very 
tall and thin an ungainly, awkward, white-faced 
man. His eyes were a light gray large, projecting, 
goggle, and purblind. He was splay-footed and 

baker -kneed He was a debauchee to the 

last degree, and so injurious to society, that by filling 
his translations with wretched notes, forged letters, 
and bad pictures, he raised the price of a" four-shilling 
book to ten. Thus, in particular, he managed Bur- 
net's ' Archaeology.' And when I told him he was 
very culpable in this and other articles he sold, his 
answer was, ' What would I have him do ? He was 
a bookseller ; his translators, in pay, lay three in a 
bed at the Pewter Platter Inn, in Holborn, and he 
and they were for ever at work deceiving the public.' 
He, likewise, printed the lewdest things. He lost his 
ears for the ' Nun in her Smock ' and another 
thing. As to drink, he was too fond of money to 
spend any in making himself happy that way ; but, 
at another's expense, he would drink every day till 
he was quite blind and as incapable of self-motion as 
a block. This was Edmund Curll. But he died at last 
as great a penitent, I think, in the year 1748 (it was 
1747), as ever expired. I mention this to his 

* A most interesting and voluminous collection of "notes" in refer- 
ence to Curll was contributed to "Notes and Queries" (2nd series, vols. 
ii., Hi., and x.) by M.N.S. Many of our facts in relation to him have 
been taken from that source, and for a far fuller account, in the 
rough material, we refer the feader thither. 


Thomas Guy, more eminent certainly as a very suc- 
cessful money-maker, and a generous benefactor to 
charitable institutions, than as a bookseller, was born 
in Horsley-down, the son of a coal-heaver and 
lighterman. The year of his birth is uncertain, but 
in 1660, he was bound apprentice to John Clarke, 
bookseller, in the porch of Mercers' Chapel, and, in 
1668, having been admitted a liveryman of the 
Stationers' Company, he opened a small shop in 
" Stock Market " (the site of the present Mansion 
House, then a fruit and flower market, where, also, 
offenders against the law were punished) with a stock- 
in-trade worth above 200. From the first, Guy's 
chief business seems to have been in Bibles, for 
Maitland, his biographer relates, " The English Bibles, 
printed in this kingdom, being very bad, both in 
the letter and the paper, occasioned divers of the 
booksellers in this city to encourage the printing 
thereof in Holland, with curious types and fine paper, 
and imported vast numbers of the same to their no 
small advantage. Mr. Guy, soon becoming acquainted 
with this profitable commerce, became a large dealer 
therein." As early as Queen Elizabeth's time, the 
privilege of printing Bibles had been conferred on 
the Queen's (or King's) printer, conjointly, of course, 
with the two Universities, and the effect of this pro- 
longed monopoly resulted, not only in exorbitant 
prices, but in great typographical carelessness, and, 
says Thomas Fuller, under the quaint heading of "Fye 
for Shame," " what is but carelessness in other books 
is impiety in setting forth of the Bible." Many of 
the errors were curious ; the printers in Charles I/s 
reign had been heavily fined for issuing an edition in 
which, the word "not" being omitted, the seventh. 


commandment had been rendered a positive, instead 
of a negative injunction. The Spectator wickedly sug- 
gests that, judging from the morals of the day, very 
many copies must have got abroad into continuous 
use. In the Bible of 1653, moreover, the printers 
allowed "know ye not that the ^//righteous shall 
inherit the kingdom of God" to stand uncorrected. 
However, the Universities and the King's printer still 
possessed the monopoly, and this new trade of good 
cheap Bibles " proving not only very detrimental to 
the public revenues, but likewise to the King's printer, 
all ways and means were devised to quash the same, 
which, being vigorously put in execution, the book- 
sellers, by frequent seizures and prosecutions, became 
so great sufferers, that they judged a further pursuit 
thereof inconsistent with their interests." Defeated 
in this manner, Guy cautiously induced the University 
of Oxford to contract with him for an assignment of 
their privilege, and not only obtained type from 
Holland, and printed the Bible in London, but was, 
later on, in 1681, according to Dunton, a partner with 
Parker in printing the Bible, at Oxford (Parker could 
have been no connection of the famous publishing 

Guy seems to have contracted in his early days 
very frugal and personally pernicious habits. Accord- 
ing to Nichols, he is said to have dined every day at 
his counter, "with no other table-cloth than an old 
newspaper," and if the " Intelligence" or the "Newes" 
of that period really served him for a cloth, the dish 
that contained his meat must have been uncommonly 
small. " He was also," it is added, " as little nice in 
his apparel." It was probably, too, in the commence- 
ment of his career, that, looking round for a tidy and 

Thomas Guy, founder of Guy's Hospital. 1644 1724. 
(From the statue by J. Bacon, R.A.} 

Guy's Hospital. 
(Bird's-eye view from a Print, 1738.) 


inexpensive helpmate, he asked his servant-maid to 
become his wife. The girl, of course, was delighted, 
but, alas ! presumed too much upon her influence over 
her careful lover; seeing that the paviours who were re- 
pairing the street, in front of the house (an order was 
issued, in 1671, to every householder to pave the 
street in front of his dwelling, " for the breadth of six 
feet at least from the foundation") had neglected a 
broken place, she called their attention to it, but they 
told her that Guy had carefully marked a particular 
stone, beyond which they were not to go. " Well," 
said the girl, " do you mend it ; tell him I bade you, 
and I know he will not be angry." When Guy saw 
the extra charge in the bill, however, he at once 
renounced his matrimonial scheme. 

The Bible trade proved prosperous, and Guy, ready 
for any lucrative and safe investment for his money, 
speculated in Government securities, and, according 
to Nichols and Maitland, acquired the " bulk of his 
fortune " by purchasing seaman's tickets ; but the 
practice of paying the royal sailors by ticket does not 
seem to have existed later than the year 1684; so 
that if he dealt in them at all it must have been a 
very early period in his career, when it appears unlikely 
that he would have had much spare cash to invest. 
Maitland adds " as well as in Government securities, 
and this was probably the manner in which the ' bulk 
of his fortune ' was really acquired." 

That his finances were in a healthy condition, is ap- 
parent, from his appearance in Parliament as member 
for Tamworth, from 1695 to 1707. According to 
Maitland, " as he was a man of unbounded charity, 
and universal benevolence, so he was likewise a good 
patron of liberty, and the rights of his fellow-sub- 


jects ; which, to his great honour, he strenuously as- 
serted in divers parliaments." An honourable testi- 
mony to his character, supported also by Dunton : 
" Thomas Guy, of Lombard-street, makes an eminent 
figure in the Company of Stationers, having been 

chosen sheriff of London, and paid the fine 

He is a man of strong reason, and can talk very 
much to the purpose on any subject you can propose. 
He is truly charitable." 

Throughout his life, he was very kind to his rela- 
tives, lending money when needed to help some, 
and pensioning others. To charities, whose purpose 
was pure benevolence, apart from sectarian motive, 
his purse was ever open, and St. Thomas's Hospital 
and the Stationers' Company were largely indebted 
to his generosity. 

In his latter days, Guy was able to multiply his 
fortune many fold. The South Sea Company was a 
good investment for a wary, cool-headed business 
man, and he became an original holder in the stock. 
" It no sooner received," says Maitland, " the sanction 
of Parliament, than the national creditors from all 
parts came crowding to subscribe into the said com- 
pany the several sums due to them from the govern- 
ment, by which great run, ;ioo of the Company's 
stock, that before was sold at 120 (at which time, 
Mr. Guy was possessed of 45,500 of the said stock) 
gradually arose to above 1,050. Mr. Guy wisely 
considering that the great use of the stock was owing 
to the iniquitous management of a few, prudently 
began to sell out his stock at about 300 (for that 
which probably at first did not cost him about 50 
or 60) and continued selling till it arose to about 
600 when he disposed of the last of his property 


in the said company," and then the terrible panic 

He was between seventy and eighty years of age 
when he determined to devote his fortune to building 
and endowing a hospital which should bear his name, 
and, dying in 1724, he lived just long enough to see 
the walls roofed in. The cost of building "Guy's 
Hospital" amounted to 18,793, and he left .219,499 
as endowment. At Tamworth, his mother's birthplace, 
which he represented in Parliament for many years, 
he erected alms-houses and a library. Christ's Hos- 
pital received 400 a year for ever, and, after many 
gifts to public charities, he directed that the balance 
of his fortune, amounting to about 80,000, should 
be divided among all who could prove themselves in 
any degree related to him. Guy's noble philanthropy 
would be unequalled in bookselling annals, but that 
Edinburgh, happily boasting of a Donaldson, can 
rival London in the generosity of a bookseller. 

We have had occasion to quote several times 
from " Dunton's Characters ;' and, as the author was 
himself a bookseller, and was, moreover, the only con- 
temporary writer who thought it worth his while to 
preserve any continuous record of the bookselling 
fraternity, we must give him a passing notice here. 
John Dunton, the son of a clergyman, was born in 
1689, and, after passing through a disorderly ap- 
prenticeship, commenced bookselling " in half a shop, 
a warehouse, and a fashionable chamber." " Printing," 
he says, " was the uppermost in my thoughts, and 
hackney authors began to ply me with specimens as 
earnestly and with as much passion and concern as 
the waterman do passengers with oars and sculls." 

Having some private capital he went ahead merrily, 


printing six hundred books, of which he repented only 
of seven, and these he recommends all who possess to 
burn forthwith. Somewhat erratic in his habits he 
went to America to recover a debt of 500, consoling 
his wife, " dear Iris," through whom he became con- 
nected with Wesley's father, by sending her sixty 
letters in one ship. Here he stayed for nearly a 
twelvemonth, pleasantly viewing the country at his 
leisure, and cultivating a platonic friendship with 
maids and widows. At his return he found his 
business disordered, and sought to make amends by 
another voyage to Holland. By this "time he had 
pretty nearly dissipated his capital, but luckily came 
" into possession of a considerable estate " through the 
death of a cousin. " The \vorld," he says, " now 
smiled on me, and I have humble servants enough 
among the stationers, booksellers, printers, and 

Of all his publications, the only one that attained 
any fame was the " Athenian Mercury," which reached 
twenty volumes. His three literary associates in this 
work were Samuel Wesley, Richard Sault, and Dr. 
John Norris, and with his aid they resolved all " nice 
and curious questions in prose and verse," concerning 
physic, philosophy, love, &c. They were afterwards 
reprinted in four volumes, under the title of the 
Athenian Oracle, and form a curious picture of the 
wants, manners, and opinions of the age ; but the 
work is, perhaps, chiefly to be remembered as one of 
the earliest periodicals not professing to contain 
" news." 

Dunton now, finding that he did not make much 
money by bookselling in London, went over to 
Dublin for six months with a cargo of books and 


started as auctioneer, naturally falling foul of the 
Irish booksellers, whom he dressed off in a tract 
entitled "The Dublin Scuffle." He returned to 
England complacently believing that he had done 
more service to learning by his auctions " than any 
single man that had come into Ireland these hundred 

In London, however, he was by this time so involved 
in commercial difficulties, that he was fain to give up 
bookselling altogether, and take to bookmaking 
instead ; and his pen was so indefatigable that he 
soon bid fair to be the author of as many volumes as 
he had published. The book that concerns us most 
here is the " Life and Errors of John Dunton, written 
by himself in Solitude," in which is included the 
" Lives and Characters of a Thousand Persons now 
living in London." In this latter part he was obliged, 
"out of mere gratitude," "to draw the characters of 
the most eminent of the profession in the three 
kingdoms ;" consequently we find some half-dozen 
lines of " character " given to every bookseller of his 
time in London, " gratitude " compelling him, how- 
ever, to be almost invariably laudatory ; the other 
parts of the " three kingdoms " are thus summarily 
and easily dealt with, " Of three hundred booksellers 
now trading in country towns, I know not of one 
knave or a blockhead amongst them all." The book, 
however rambling and incoherent, contains much 
worth preservation, and is not unpleasant desultory 

Dunton's own " character " has been preserved else- 
where than in his Life and Confessions. Warburton 
describes him as " an auction bookseller and an 
abusive scribbler ;" Disraeli, " as a crack-brain, 


scribbling bookseller, who boasted that he had a 
thousand projects, fancied he had methodised six 
hundred, and was ruined by the fifty he executed." 
His greatest project, by the way, was intended "to 
extirpate lewdness from London." " Armed with a 
constable's staff, and accompanied by a clerical com- 
panion, he sallied forth in the evening, and followed 
the wretched prostitutes home to a tavern, where 
every effort was used to win the erring fair to the 
paths of virtue ; but these he observes were perilous 
adventures, as the cyprians exerted every art to lead 
him astray in the height of his spiritual exhorta- 

There is something so Quixotic about his schemes, 
so complacent about his marvellous self-vanity, that 
we are really grieved when we find him ending his 
life, as most "projectors" do, with Dying Groans 
from the Fleet Prison ; or, a Last Shift for Life. 
Shortly after this, in 1733, his teeming brain and his 
eager pen were at rest for ever. 

Another bookseller, also a " man of letters," but of 
very different calibre from poor John Dunton, must 
have a niche here, not because he was eminent as a 
publisher, but because he was, taken altogether, the 
most famous man who has ever stood behind a book- 
seller's counter. One of our greatest novelists, his 
general life is so well known, that we will only treat 
here of his bookselling career. Samuel Richardson, 
born in 1689, was the son of a joiner in Derbyshire; a 
quiet shy boy, he became the confident and love-letter 
writer of the girls in his neighbourhood, gaining 
thereby his wonderful knowledge of womankind. 
Fond of books, and longing for opportunities of study, 
he was, at the age of sixteen, apprenticed to John 


Wilde, of Stationers' Hall, but his master, though 
styling him the "pillar of his house," grudged him, he 
says, " every hour that tended not to his profit." So 
Richardson used to sit up half the night over his 
books, careful at that time to burn only his own 
candles. On the termination of his apprenticeship, he 
became a journeyman and corrector of the press, and 
six years later commenced business in an obscure 
court in Fleet-street, where he filled up his leisure 
hours by compiling indices, and writing prefaces and 
what he terms "honest dedications" for the book- 

Through his industry and perseverance his business 
became much extended, and he was selected by 
Wharton to print the True Briton; but, after the 
publication of the sixth number, he would not allow 
his name to appear, and consequently escaped the 
results of the ensuing prosecution. Through the 
friendly interest of Mr. Speaker Onslow he printed 
the first edition of the Journal of the House of Com- 
mons, completed in twenty-six folio volumes, for 
which, after long and vexatious delays, he received 
upwards of 3000 . He also printed from 1736 to 
1737 the Daily Journal, and in 1738 the Daily 

In 1740 Mr. Rivington and Mr. Osborne proposed 
that he should write for them a little volume of letters, 
which resulted in his first novel Pamela, the publica- 
tion of which will be treated in our account of the 
Rivingtons. This was followed by Clarissa, one of 
the few books from which it is absolutely impossible 
to steal away, when once the dread of its size has 
been overcome. Though famous now as the first great 
novelist who had written in the English tongue, 


Richardson was not then above his daily work. He 
writes to his friend Mr. Defreval, " You know how my 
business engages me. You know by what snatches of 
time I write, that I may not neglect that, and that I 
may preserve that independency which is the comfort 
of my life. I never sought out of myself for patrons. 
My own industry and God's providence have been my 
sole reliance." In 1754, he was, to the great honour 
of the members, chosen master of the Stationers' 
Company, the only fear of his friends being that he 
would not play the gourmand well. . " I cannot," 
writes Edwards, " but figure to myself the miserable 
example you will set at the head of their loaded 
tables, unless you have two stout jaw-workers for your 
wardens, and a good hungry court of assistants." 

The honourable post he occupied shows his position 
in the trade at this time. This was improved in 1760, 
by the purchase of a moiety of the patent of law- 
printer, which he carried on in partnership with Miss 
Lintot, grand-daughter of Bernard Lintot. He died 
in the following year, leaving funeral-rings to thirty- 
four of his acquaintances, and adding in his will, 
" Had I given rings to all the ladies who have 
honoured me with their correspondence, and whom I 
sincerely venerate for their amiable qualities, it would, 
even in this last solemn act, appear like ostentation." 
It is impossible in treating of Richardson not to refer 
to his vanity ; but the love of praise was his only 
fault, and it has grown to us, like the foible of a loved 
friend, dearer than all his virtues. It is not un- 
pleasant to think that the ladies of that time, by 
the way in which they petted, coaxed, and humoured 
him, conferred an innocent pleasure upon the truest 
of all the delineators of their sex, except perhaps 

Samuel Richardson, Bookseller and Novelist. 1689 176] 
(From a Picture by Chamberlin. ) 


Balzac, who, if he knows it better, is more unfortunate 
in his knowledge. With all Richardson's vanity, he 
drew a portrait of himself that is not far removed 
from caricature. " Short, rather plump than emaci- 
ated, notwithstanding his complaints ; about five feet 
five inches ; fair wig ; lightish cloth coat, all black 
besides ; one hand generally in his bosom, the other 
a cane in it, which he leans upon under the skirts of 
his coat usually, that it may imperceptibly serve him 
as a support, when attacked by sudden tremors or 
startlings, and dizziness which too frequently attacks 
him, but, thank God, not so often as formerly ; look- 
ing directly foreright as passers-by would imagine, 
but observing all that stirs on either side of him with* 
out moving his short neck ; hardly ever turning back ; 
of a light brown complexion ; teeth not yet failing 
him ; smoothish face and ruddy cheeked ; at some 
times looking to be about sixty-five, at other times 
much younger ;^ a regular even pace, stealing away 
ground rather than seeming to rid it ; a gray eye, too 
often over- clouded by mistiness from the head ; by 
chance lively very lively it will be, if he have hope 
of seeing a young lady whom he loves and honours ; 
his eye always on the ladies ; if they have very large 
hoops, he looks down supercilious, and as if he would 
be thought wise, but, perhaps, the sillier for that ; as 
he approaches a lady, his eyes are never set upon her 
face but upon her feet, and thence he raises it pretty 
quickly for a dull eye ; and one would think (if one 
thought him at all worthy of observation) that from 
her air and (the last beheld) her face, he sets her 
down in his mind as so and so, and then passes on to 
the next object he meets." 

Among other letters to Richardson we come across 



an affecting one from Dr. Johnson : " I am obliged to 
entreat your assistance, I am under arrest for five 
pounds eighteen shillings." As round Pope and 
Dryden formerly, so it is now round Johnson that the 
booksellers of the next decade cluster ; and from the 
moment when first he rolled into a London book- 
seller's shop, his huge unwieldy body clad in coarse 
country garments, worn and travel-stained, his face 
scarred and seamed with small-pox to ask for lite- 
rary employment, and to be told he had better rather 
purchase a porter's knot, the future of the trade was 
very much wrapt up in his own. Forced by hunger 
to work for the most niggardly pay, he was yet not 
to be insulted with impunity. " Lie there, thou lump 
of lead," he exclaims as he knocked down Osborne of 
Grey's Inn Gate, with a folio. " Sir," he explains to 
Boswell afterwards, " he was impertinent to me, and I 
beat him." 

Among the earliest of Johnson's employers was 
Edward Cave. The son of a shoemaker at Rugby, he 
contrived, in spite of the contumely excited by his 
low estate, to pick up much learning at the Grammar 
School, and after narrowly escaping an university 
training, and for a while obtaining his livelihood as 
clerk to a collector of excise and apprentice to a 
timber merchant, he found more congenial employ- 
ment in a printing office, and conducted a weekly 
newspaper at Norwich. Returning to London, he 
contrived by multifarious work correcting for the 
press, contributing to Mist's Journal, writing news 
letters, and filling a situation in the Post Office simul- 
taneously to save a small sum of money sufficient to 
start a petty printing office at St. John's Gate. He 
was now able to realize a project he had before offered 

Edward Cave, founder of the " Gentleman's Magazine." 16911754. 

The King's Printing House, Blackfriars. 
(From a draining made about 1 750. ) 


to half the booksellers in London, of establishing the 
Gentleman's Magazine, and to Cave must be conceded 
the honour of inventing that popular species of peri- 
odical literature. The first number was printed in 
1731, and its success induced several rivals to enter 
the field, but only one The London Magazine and 
that a joint concern of the leading publishers, was at 
all able to hold any opposition to it ; and the London 
Magazine ceased to exist in 1785, while the Gentle- 
man's Magazine has only quite recently displayed a 
sudden rejuvenation. In its early days Johnson was 
the chief contributor to its pages. He had a room 
set apart for him at St. John's Gate, where he wrote 
as fast as he could drive his pen, throwing the sheets 
off, when completed, to the " copy" boy. The Life of 
Savage was written anonymously, in 1744, and Mr. 
Harte spoke in high terms of the book, while dining 
with Cave. The publisher told him afterwards : 
" Harte, you made a man very happy the other day 
at my house by your praise of Savages Life" " How 
so ? none were present but you and I." Cave replied, 
"You might observe I sent a plate of victuals behind 
the screen ; there lurked one whose dress was too 
shabby for him to appear ; your praise pleased him 

In 1736, Cave began to carry out his scheme of 
publishing the reports of the debates in Parliament in 
the monthly pages of his magazine. With a friend or 
two he used to lurk about the lobby and gallery, 
taking sly notes in dark corners, remembering what 
they could of the drift of the argument, and then 
retiring to a neighbouring tavern to compare and 
adjust their notes. This rough material was placed 
in the hands of an experienced writer, and thus 



dressed up, presented to the readers of the magazine. 
In 1738, the House complained of the breach of privi- 
lege committed by Cave, and, among other debaters, 
Sir William Younge earnestly implored the House to 
put a summary check to these reports, prophesying 
that otherwise " you will have the speeches of the 
House every day printed, even during your session, 
and we shall be looked upon as the most contemptible 
assembly on the face of the earth." After this check 
some expedient was necessary, and the proceedings in 
Parliament were given as Debates in tJie Senate of 
Great L illiput, and were entrusted to Johnson's pen. 
On one occasion a large company were praising a 
speech of Pitt's ; Johnson sat silent for a while, then 
said, " That speech I wrote in a yard in Exeter 
Street." It had been reprinted verbatim from the 
magazine, and had been drawn up entirely from rough 
notes and hints supplied by the messengers. When 
congratulated on his uniform political impartiality, 
Johnson replied: "That is not quite true, sir; I saved 
appearances well enough, but I took care that the 
Whig dogs should not have the best of it." Cave's 
attention to the magazine was unremitting to the day 
of his death; "he scarce ever looked out of the 
window," says Johnson, " but for its improvement." 

In 1749, the first popular review was started, by 
Ralph Griffiths ; but before the time of the Monthly 
Review there had been various journals professing to 
deal only with literature. In 1683, had been pub- 
lished a Weekly Memento for tJie Ingenius, or an 
Account of Books, and, in 1714, the first really critical 
journal, under the quaint title, The Waies of Liter a- 
ture, and these had been succeeded by others. Still, 
the Monthly Review was a very great improvement, 


Among the chief early contributors was Goldsmith, 
who escaped the miseries of ushership, and the weari- 
ness of a diplomaless doctor, waiting for patients who 
never came, or, at all events, never paid, to live as a 
hack writer in Griffiths' house. Here, induced by 
want, or kindliness to a fellow-starver, he got into 
trouble by borrowing money from his master to pay 
for clothes, and appropriating it to other purposes, 
Termed villain and sharper, and threatened with the 
Roundhouse, he writes : " No, sir ; had I been a 
sharper, had I been possessed of less good nature 
and native generosity, I might surely now have been 
in better circumstances ; I am guilty I own of mean- 
ness, which poverty unavoidably brings with it." 

As to the payment for periodical writing in that 
day, we are told by an author who recollected the 
Monthly Review for fifty years, that in its most palmy 
days only four guineas a sheet were given to the most 
distinguished writers, and as late as 1783, when it 
was reported that Doctor Shebbeare received as much 
as six guineas, Johnson replied, " Sir, he might get six 
guineas for a particular sheet, but not cemmunibus 
sJieetibus " and yet he afterwards explains the fact of 
so much good writing appearing anonymously, with- 
out hope of personal fame, " those who write in them 
write well in order to be paid well." 

Of all the booksellers of the Johnsonian era, Robert 
Dodsley, however, was facile princeps. Born in the 
year 1703, he commenced life as a footman, but a 
poem entitled The Muse in Livery, so interested his 
mistress, the Hon. Mrs. Lowther, that she procured 
its publication by subscription. After this he entered 
the service of Dartineuf, a celebrated voluptuary, the 
reputed son of Charles II., and one of the most inti- 


mate friends of Pope. Here he wrote a dramatic 
satire, The Toy Shop, with which Pope was so pleased, 
that he interested himself in procuring its acceptance 
at Covent Garden. The piece was successful, and 
Pope, adding a substantial present on his own account 
of one hundred pounds, Dodsley was enabled to open 
a small bookseller's shop in Pall Mall, then far from 
enjoying its present fashionable repute. In this new 
situation, without any apprenticeship whatever, he 
soon attracted the attention not only of celebrated 
literary men, but his shop became a favourite lounge 
for noble and wealthy dilettanti. In 1738, began his 
first acquaintance with Johnson, who offered him the 
manuscript of London, a Satire. " Paul Whitehead 
had a little before got ten guineas for a poem, and I 
would not take less than Paul Whitehead," and with- 
out any haggling, the bargain was concluded. Busy 
as he soon began to be in his shop, Dodsley did not 
neglect original composition. He produced several 
successful farces, and in 1744, edited and published 
the work by which his name is best known now, 
A Collection of Plays by Old Authors, which did much 
to revive the study of Elizabethan literature, and was 
most fruitful in its influence on later generations. 

In about the following year Dodsley proposed to 
Johnson that he should write a dictionary of the 
English language, and after some hesitation on the 
author's part, the proposal was accepted. The dic- 
tionary was to be the joint property as was then 
beginning to be the case with all Avorks of import- 
ance of several booksellers, viz. : Robert Dodsley, 
Charles Hitch, Andrew Millar, Messrs. Longman, and 
Messrs. Knapton ; the management of it during 
publication being confided to Andrew Millar. The 


work took eight years, instead of the three on which 
Johnson had calculated, of very severe study and 
labour, and the ,1575 which was then considered a 
very handsome honorarium^ was all drawn out in drafts, 
for at the dinner given in honour of the completion 
of the great work, when the receipts were produced it 
was found that he had nothing more to receive. 
Johnson, after sending his last "copy" to Millar, 
inquired of the messenger what the bookseller said. 
" He said, 'Thank God I have done with him.' " " I 
am glad," said the Doctor smiling, " that he thanks 
God for anything." 

Andrew Millar was by this time the proprietor of 
Tonson's shop in Fleet Street, and was a man of 
great enterprise. He was the publisher, among other 
authors, of Thomson, Fielding, and Hume, and 
Johnson invariably speaks well of him. "I respect 
Millar, sir; he has raised the price of literature:" "and," 
writes John Nichols, "Jacob Tonson and Andrew 
Millar were the best patrons of literature, a fact 
rendered unquestionable by the valuable works 
produced under their fostering and genial hands." 
Literature now was rapidly changing its condition. 
Johnson had discovered that the subscription system 
was essentially a rotten one, and that the real reading 
public, the author's legitimate patrons, were reached 
of course through the medium of the booksellers : 
" He that asks for subscriptions soon finds that he 
has enemies. All who do not encourage him defame 
him :" and then again " Now learning is a trade ; 
a man goes to a bookseller and gets what he can. 
We have done with patronage. In the infancy of 
learning we find some great men praised for it. This 
diffused it among others. When it becomes general 


an author leaves the great and applies to the multi- 
tude." As to what the booksellers of the eighteenth 
century were, and as to bow they compare with the 
publishers of the nineteenth century, we will quote 
from an unedited letter of Mr. Thomas Carlyle, dated 
3rd May, 1852, addressed to Mr. John Chapman, 
bookseller (Emerson's first English publisher, we 
belfeve), now Dr. Chapman : 

" The duties of society towards literature in this 
new condition of the world are becoming great, vital, 
inextricably intricate, little capable of being done or 
understood at present, yet all important to be under- 
stood and done if society will continue to exist along 
with it, or it along with society. For the highest 
provinces of spiritual culture and most sacred interests 
of men down to the lowest economic and ephemeral 
concerns, where ' free press ' rules supreme, society was 
itself with all its sovereignties and parliaments de- 
pending on the thing it calls literature ; and bound 
by incalculable penalties in many duties in regard to 
that. Of which duties I perceive finance alone, and 
free trade alone will by no means be found to be the 
sum . . . What alone concerns us here is to remark 
that the present system of book-publishing discharges 
none of these duties less and less makes even the 
appearance of discharging them and, indeed, as I 
believe, is, by the nature of the case, incapable of 
ever, in any perceptible degree, discharging any of 
them in the times that now are. A century ago, there 
was in the bookselling guild if never any royalty of 
spirit, as how could such a thing be looked for there ? 
yet a spirit of merchanthood, which had its value in 
regard to the prosaic parts of literature, and is even 
to be thankfully remembered. By this solid merchant 


spirit, if we take the victualling and furnishing of such 
an enterprise as Samuel Johnson's English Dic- 
tionary for its highest feat (as perhaps we justly 
may) ; and many a Petitor's Memories, Ency- 
clopedia Britannica, &c., in this country and others, 
for its lower, we must gratefully admit the real useful- 
ness, respectability, and merit to the world. But in 
later times owing to many causes, which have been 
active, not on the book guild alone, such spirit has 
long been diminished, and has now ' as good as dis- 
appeared without hope of reinstation in this quarter.' " 
To return to Dodsley, we find that in 1753 he 
commenced the World, a weekly essay ridiculing 
" with novelty and good humour, the fashions, follies, 
vices, and absurdities of that part of the human species 
which calls itself the World. Three guineas was 
allowed as literary remuneration for each number, 
but Moore, the editor, a receiver of this allowance, 
obtained much gratuitous assistance from Lord Ches- 
terfield, Horace Walpole, and other men of wit and 
fashion. Another periodical, but a bi-weekly, the 
Rambler, all the work of Samuel Johnson, appeared 
without intermission for the space of two years, and 
in its gravity, its high morality, and its sententious 
language presents a curious contrast to its livelier 
companion. Dodsley, after having published Burke's 
earliest productions, entrusted to his care the manage- 
ment of a very important venture, the Annual 
Register, which was to carry Dodsley's name up to our 
own times. In the same year, 1758, his last play 
Cleone, in which he ventured to rise to tragedy, 
after having been declined by Garrick was acted at 
Covent Garden amidst the greatest applause, and for 
a number of nights, that, in those times, constituted a 


wonderful " run." And the author, fond to distraction 
of his last child, " went every night to the stage side 
and cried at the distress of poor Cleone ;" yet when it 
was reported that Johnson had remarked that if 
Otway had written it, no other of his pieces would 
have been remembered, Dodsley had the good sense 
to say " it was too much." 

A long and prosperous career enabled Dodsley to 
retire some years before his death, which occurred at 
Durham, in 1/64. 

Thomas Cadell, who had served his apprenticeship 
to Andrew Millar, was now taken into partnership, 
and in a few years he and the Strahans quite filled 
the place that Dodsley and Millar had previously 
occupied. Together they became the proprietors of 
the copyright of works by the great historical and 
philosophical writers who shed a lustre round the close 
of the eighteenth century, and among their clients we 
find the names of Robertson, Gibbon, Adam Smith 
and Blackstone. For the History of CJiarlcs V. 
Robertson received ,4500, then supposed to be the 
largest sum ever paid for the copyright of a single 
work, and out of Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the 
Roman Empire the booksellers are said to have 
cleared 60,000. Cadell retired with an enormous 
fortune, and was honoured by being elected Sheriff of 
London at a very critical and important time. Alex- 
ander Strahan, became King's printer, and left a 
fortune of upwards of a million. His business was 
eventually carried on by the Spottiswoodes. 

The practice, we have already referred to, of book- 
sellers fraternising pleasantly together for the purpose 
of bringing out expensive editions at a lessened risk, 
led to many famous associations, the earliest of 

. Thomas Cadell. 
1742 1802. 


which, the " Congers," will be dealt with hereafter in 
connection with the history of families still represented 
in the trade, but the " Chapter Coffee House " is too 
important to be passed over altogether. 

There is an amusing account of the Chapter Coffee 
House in the first number of the Connoisseur, It "is fre- 
quented by those encouragers of learning, the book- 
sellers. . . . Their criticisms are somewhat singular. 
When they say a good book, they do not mean to 
praise the style or sentiment, but the quick and exten- 
sive sale of it. ... A few nights ago I saw one of these 
gentlemen take up a sermon, and after seeming to pe- 
ruse it for some time, with great attention, he declared 
it was 'very good English.' The reader will judge 
whether I was most surprised or diverted, when I dis- 
covered that he was .not commending the purity or 
elegance of the diction, but the beauty of the type, 
which, it seems, is known among the printers by that 
appellation. . . . The character of. the bookseller is 
generally formed on the writers in his service. Thus 
one is a politician or a deist ; another affects humour, 
or aims at turns of wit or repartee ; while a third per- 
haps is grave, moral, and sententious." 

In this Coffee House the associated booksellers 
met to talk over their plans, and many a germ of most 
valuable projects was originated here; the books so 
published coming in time to be called " Chapter 
Books." Among the chief members of the association 
were John Rivington, John Murray, and Thomas 
Longman, James Dodson, Alderman Cadell, Tom 
Davies, Robert Baldwin (whose name, if not family, 
figured in bookselling annals for a century and a half), 
Peter Elmsley, and Joseph Johnson. Johnson was 
Cowper's publisher; the first volumes of the poems 


fell dead, and he begged the author to think nothing 
further of the loss, which they had agreed to share. 
In gratitude Cowper sent him the Task as a pre- 
sent; it was a wonderful success, and altogether John- 
son is said to have made ; 10,000 out of Cowper's 
poems. He assisted in the publication of the Homer 
without any compensation at all. The most impor- 
tant " Chapter books " were Johnson's EnglisJi 
Poets, including his Lives of the English Poets, 
for which latter he received two hundred guineas, and 
a present of another hundred, and, on their re-publi- 
cation in a separate edition, a fourth hundred. " Sir," 
observed the Doctor to a friend, " I have always said 
the booksellers were a generous set of men. Nor in 
the present instance have I reason to complain. The 
fact is, not that they paid me too little, but that I 
have written too much." 

Of course when the booksellers met, the literary 
men were not far absent. "I am quite familiar" 
(writes poor Chatterton in his sad, boastful letters, 
meant to cheer up the hearts of the dear ones at 
home, while his own heart was breaking in London) 
"at the Chapter Coffee House, and know all the 
geniuses there. A character is now quite unnecessary ; 
an author carries his character in his pen." 

Later on, the Chapter Coffee House became the 
place of call for poor parsons, who stood there ready 
for hire, on Sunday mornings, at sums varying from 
five shillings to a guinea. Sermons, too, were kept 
in stock here for purchase, or could be written, there 
and then, to order. 

At the very close of the last century a fresh band 
of " Associated Booksellers " was formed, consisting 
of the following : Thomas Hood (father of the poet), 


John Cuthel, James Nunn, J. Lea, Lackington, Allen 
and Co., and others. The vignette which ornamented 
their books was a Beehive, with the inscription of 
"Associated," and thus they got the title of the "As- 
sociated Busy Bees." 

Two of the principal booksellers towards the end 
of the last century, require, from the magnitude of 
their business, a somewhat lengthier notice. 

George Robinson, born at Dalston near Carlisle, 
received his business training under John Rivington. 
In 1764 he started as a wholesale bookseller in Pater- 
noster Row, and, by 1780, he could boast of the 
largest wholesale trade in London. Nor were the 
higher branches of his calling neglected, and in the 
purchase of copyrights he rivalled the oldest esta- 
blished firms. Among his publications we may men- 
tion the Critical Review, the Town and Country Mag- 
azine, and the New Annual Register ; the Modern 
Universal History (in sixty volumes), the Biographica 
Britannica, and Russell's Ancient and Modern Europe ; 
Bruce' s Travels and the Travels of A nacharsis ; the 
illustrated works of Hogarth, Bewick, and Heath ; 
and the lighter productions of Macklin, Murphy, 
Godwin, Mrs. Inchbald, Mrs. Radcliffe, Dr. Moore, 
and Dr. Wolcot 

For the Mysteries of UdolpJio Mrs. Radcliffe 
received five hundred guineas, the largest sum that 
had at that time been- given for a novel, and Peter 
Pindar (Dr. Wolcot) made a still better bargain for 
his poems. They had already acquired a prodigious 
popularity, and in selling the copyright a question 
arose, as to whether they should be purchased for a 
lump sum or an annuity. While the treaty was pend- 
ing Wolcot was seized with a violent and rather ostenta- 


tious attack of asthma, which sadly interrupted him in 
discussing the arrangements, and he was eagerly 
offered an annuity of 250. The arrangement was 
made by Walker, a partner with Robinson in this 
transaction. Walker soon called to inquire after his 
friend's illness, " Thank you, much better," said Wol- 
cot, " I have taken measure of my asthma, the fellow 
'is troublesome, but I know his strength and am his 
master." Walker's face grew longer, and when he 
rejoined his wife in the next room, the doctor heard 
a shrill, feminine expostulation, " There, you've done 
it> I told you he wouldn't die !" He outlived all the 
parties concerned, and was in his own case, perhaps, 
scarcely justified in originating the famous saying, 
" that publishers quaff champagne out of the skulls of 

This over-eager parsimony was not in any way 
due to Robinson ; his generosity to his authors 
was well known, and his house became a general 
rendezvous for the literary men of the day, who 
were heartily welcome whenever they chose to turn 
up, provided always that they did not come late 
for dinner. After Robinson's death in 1801, his son 
and brother carried on the business, but met with 
reverses, principally through loss of stock at a fire ; 
but the wonderful prices that were realized at the 
auction, consequent on their declared bankruptcy, 
fairly set them afloat again. One bookseller, alone, 
is said to have invested .40,000 at the sale, and even 
the copyright of Vyse's Shilling Spelling Book was 
sold for 2,500, with an annuity of fifty guineas a 
year to the old schoolmaster Vyse. 

James Lackington, in his Memoirs and Confessions 
has left plenty of material, had we space, for an 


amusing and instructive biography. He was born at 
Wellington in 1746, and his father, a drunken cobbler, 
would not even pay the requisite twopence a week 
for his son's education. Loafing about the streets 
all day as a. child, he thought he might turn his 
wanderings to account by crying pies, and as a pie- 
boy he acquired such a pre-eminence that he was 
soon engaged to vend almanacs. At fourteen he 
left this vagrant life to be apprenticed to a shoe-maker, 
and his master's family becoming strong adherents to 
the new sect of Methodists, he too was converted, 
and would trudge, he says, through frost and snow at 
midnight to hear " an inspired husbandman, shoe- 
maker, blacksmith, or a woolcomber" preach to ten 
or a dozen people, when he might have quietly stopped 
at home to listen to " the sensible and learned ministers 
at Taunton." 

However, what he heard " made me think they 
knew many matters of which I was totally ignorant," 
and he set to work arduously at night to learn his 
letters, and when he was able to read, he bought 
Hobbe's Homer at a bookstall, and found that his let- 
ters did but little in assisting his comprehension ; 
however, in his zeal for knowledge he allowed himself 
" but three hours' sleep in the twenty-four." The art 
of writing was acquired in a similar manner, and then 
he started on a working tour, making shoes on the 
road for sustenance, -but suffering many hardships 
and miseries. To make matters worse, at Bristol he 
married a young girl of his own class, whose ill- 
health, though he was passionately fond of her, added 
no little to his troubles. Accordingly he went to 
London, that for her sake he might earn higher 
wages, and not altogether unhopeful of the fortunes he 


had heard were to be gained there by dogged hard 
work and endurance. They arrived with the typical 
half-crown in their pockets, and then Lackington, 
anxious to obtain the small legacy of 10 he had 
left at home, went for it personally ; " it being such a 
prodigious sum that the greatest caution was used on 
both sides, so that it cost me about half the money in 
going down for it, and in returning to town again." 
After working some time as a journeyman bookseller 
he opened a little cobbler's shop ; and, thinking he 
knew as much about books as the keeper of an old 
bookstall in the neighbourhood, wishing also to have 
opportunity for study, he invested a guinea in a bag- 
ful of old books. To increase his stock he borrowed 
5 from a fund " Mr. Wesley's people kept to lend 
out, for three months, without interest, to such of 
their society whose characters were good, and who 
wanted a temporary relief. ... In our new situation 
we lived in a very frugal manner, often dining on 
potatoes and quenching our thirst with water ; being 
absolutely determined, if possible, to make some pro- 
vision for such dismal times as sickness, shortness of 
work, &c., which we had frequently been involved in 
before, and could scarcely help expecting not to be 
our fate again." He soon found customers, and " as 
' soon laid out the money ' in other old trash which 
was daily brought for sale." 

In a short time he had realized 2$, and was able 
to take a book-shop in Chiswell Street ; and here he 
almost immediately lost his wife, which for a time in- 
volved him in the deepest distress, but in the following 
year he married again, and then resolved to quit his 
Wesleyan friends, a sect he thought incompatible with 
the dignity of a bookseller ; indeed "Mr. Wesley often 

James Lackington, Bookseller. 



told his society in Broadment, Bristol, in my hearing, 
that he could never keep a bookseller six months in 
his flock." From this time success uniformly attended 
his undertakings, and was due, he says, primarily to his 
invariable principle of selling at very low figures and 
only for ready-money. When he began to attend the 
trade sales he created consternation among his bre- 
thren. " I was very much surprised to learn that it 
was common for such as purchased remainders to 
destroy or burn one half or three-fourths of such books, 
and to charge the full publication price, or nearly that, 
for such as they kept on hand." With this rule he 
complied for a short time ; but afterwards resolved to 
keep the whole stock. The trade endeavoured to 
hinder his appearance at the sale-rooms, but in time 
they were forced to yield, and he continued to sell off 
remainders at half or a quarter the published price.* 
" By selling them in this cheap manner, I have dis- 
posed of many hundred thousand volumes, many 
thousand of which have been intrinsically worth their 
original prices." Such a method attracted a crowd of 
customers, and he soon began to buy manuscripts from 
authors. As to how his circumstances were improving 
we read, " I discovered that lodgings in the country 
were very healthy. The year after, my country 
lodging was transformed into a country house, and in 
another year the inconveniences attending a stage 
coach were remedied by a chariot," on the doors of 
which " I have put a motto to remind me to what I 
am indebted to my prosperity, viz. : Small Profits do 
Great Things." Again, he was very fond of repeating, 

* West says he sat next Lackington at a sale when he spent upwards 
of ,12,000 in an afternoon. 


"I found all I possess in small profits, bound by in- 
dustry and clasped with economy" 

The shop in Chiswell Street was now changed into 
a huge building at the corner of Finsbury Square, 
grandly styled the " Temple of the Muses ;" above it 
floated a flag, over the door was the inscription 
" Cheapest bookshop in the world," and inside ap- 
peared the notice that " the lowest price is marked on 
every Book, and no abatement made on any article." 
" Half-a-million of volumes " were said, according to 
his catalogue, " to be constantly on sate," and these 
were arranged in galleries and rooms, rising in tiers 
the more expensive books at the bottom, and the 
prices diminishing with every floor, but all numbered 
according to a catalogue, which Lackington compiled 
himself, and even the first he issued contained 12,000 
volumes. During his first year at the "Temple of the 
Muses " he cleared 5000. In 1798, he was able to 
retire with a large fortune, and he again joined the 
Methodists, building and endowing three chapels for 
them, in contrition for having maligned them in his 
rambling Memoirs. Latterly he was fond of travelling, 
and made a tour of bookselling inspection through 
England and Scotland, seeing discouraging signs in 
every town but Edinburgh, "where indeed a few 
capital articles are kept." " At York and Leeds there 
were a few (and but very few) good books ; but in 
all the other towns between London and Edinburgh 
nothing but trash was to be found." In Scotland, he 
looked forward with great curiosity to seeing the 
women washing soiled linen in the rivers, standing 
bare-legged the while, and indeed this incident seems 
to have afforded him more gratification than any in 
his travels except the following: "In Bristol, Uxbridge, 


Bridge-water, Taunton, Wellington, and other places, I 
amused myself in calling on some of my masters^ 
with whom I had, about twenty years before, worked 
as a journeyman shoemaker. I addressed each with 
* Pray, sir, have you got any occasion ?' which is the 
term made use of by journeymen in that useful occu- 
pation, when seeking employment. Most of these 
honest men had quite forgotten my person, as many 
of them had not seen me since I worked for them ; so 
that it is not easy for you to conceive with what sur- 
prize and astonishment they gazed on me. For you 
must know that I had the vanity (I call it humour) to 
do this in my chariot, attended by my servants ; and 
on telling them who I was all appeared to be very 
happy to see me." 

James Lackington died in his country house in 
Budleigh Lutterton, in Devonshire, in 1815. His life 
is an eminent example how a man of no attainments 
or advantages can conquer success by sheer hard work 
and perseverance. 

Lackington was not the only man of his time who 
perceived that the conditions of literature were dis- 
playing at least a chance of change ; that the circle of 
the book-buying public was incessantly enlarging, 
and that, by supplying the best books at the cheapest 
remunerative rates, not only would the progress of 
education be accelerated, but that the very speculation 
would bring fortune as well as honour to the innova- 
tors in the Trade. One of the first booksellers to 
adopt this principle was John Bell, whose name is 
still preserved in Bell's Weekly Messenger. His 
British Poets, British Theatre and Shakespeare, 
published in small pocket volumes, carried con- 
sternation into the trade, but scattered the English 



classics broadcast among the people. He was the 
first to discard the long s. He was soon rivalled by 
Cook and Harrison, and all three were distinguished, 
not only by publishing in little pocket volumes, ex- 
quisitely printed, and embellished by the best artists 
for the many, what had before been produced in folios 
and quartos for the few, but as the inventors of the 
" number trade," by which even expensive works were 
sold in small weekly portions to those to whom litera- 
ture had hitherto been an unknown luxury. Such 
were the Lives of CJirist, TJie Histories of England \ 
Foxes Book of Afartyrs, Family Bibles with Notes, 
and The Works of Flavins JosepJius. Many of these 
" number books," though of no great literary merit, 
exhibited every possible attraction on their copious 
title-pages, and were announced with the then novel 
terms of " beautiful," "elegant," "superb," and "mag- 

But the pioneer to whom the cheap book-buying 
public is most indebted was Alexander Donaldson, 
who, though an Edinburgh man, fought out his chief 
battles among his London brethren. Donaldson's 
contemporaries in Edinburgh in the middle of the 
eighteenth century were Bell, Ellis, and Creech, the 
only bookseller worth recording before that date being 
Alexander Ramsay, the poet. Donaldson having 
struck out the idea of publishing cheap reprints of 
popular works, extended his business by starting a 
bookshop in the Strand, London a step that brought 
him into collision with the London publishers and 
authors, for Johnson calls him " a fellow who takes 
advantage of the state of the law to injure his 
brethren . . . and supposing he did reduce the price 
of books is no better than Robin Hood who robbed 

Andrew Donaldson. 
(From an Etching by Kay. 1789.) 

Stationers' Hall, near Paternoster Row. 
(From an Etching by R. Cole. 1750.) 


the rich in order to give to the poor." In 1771, 
Donaldson reprinted Thomson's Seasons, and an action 
at law was brought against him by certain booksellers. 
He proved that the work in question had first been 
printed in 1729, that its author died in 1748, and that 
the copyright consequently expired in 1757 ; and the 
Lords decided in his favour, thereby settling finally 
the vulgar and traditional theory that copyright was 
the interminable possession of the purchaser. To fol- 
low this interesting question for a moment. In Anne's 
reign it was decided that copyright was to last for 
fourteen years, with an additional term of fourteen 
years, provided that the author was alive at the ex- 
piry of the first. In 1773-4, following upon Donald- 
son's prosecution, a bill to render copyright perpetual 
passed through the Commons, but was thrown out in 
the Lords, and in 1814 the term of fourteen years 
and a conditional fourteen was extended to a definite 
and invariable period of twenty-eight years. Finally 
in 1842, the present law was passed, by which the 
term was prolonged to forty-two years, but the copy- 
right was not to expire in any case before seven years 
after the author's death. 

Donaldson left a very large fortune, which was 
greatly augmented by his son, who bequeathed the 
total amount, a quarter of a million, to found an 
educational hospital for- poor children in Edinburgh, 
under the title of " Donaldson's Hospital." 

During the period under review the localities af- 
fected by the bookselling and publishing trade had 
greatly changed and altered. The stalls of the "Chap. 
Book " venders had disappeared from London Bridge 
and the Exchange, and even Little Britain had been 
entirely vacated. Little Britain, from the time of the 


first Charles to Mary and William, was as famous for 
books as Paternoster Row afterwards became. But, 
even in 1731, a writer in the Gentleman's Magazine 
says, " The race of booksellers in Little Britain is now 
almost extinct; honest Ballard, well known for his curi- 
ous divinity catalogues (he was said to have been the 
first to print a catalogue), being then the only genuine 
representative ... it was, in the middle of the last 
century, a plentiful and learned emporium of learned 
authors, and nten went thither as to a market. This 
drew to the place a mighty trade, the rather because 
the shops were spacious and the learned gladly re- 
sorted to them, where they seldom failed to meet with 
agreeable conversations." The son of this Ballard 
died in 1796, and was by far the best of the Little 
Britain booksellers. When the "trade" deserted 
Little Britain, about the reign of Queen Anne, they 
took up their abode in Paternoster Row, then princi- 
pally in the hands of mercers, haberdashers, and lace- 
men a periodical in 1705 mentioning even the 
" semptresses of Paternoster Row ;" for the old manu- 
script venders, who had christened the whole neigh- 
bourhood, had died out centuries before. It now be- 
came the headquarters of publishers and more 
especially of old booksellers, but with the introduction 
of magazines and " copy " books, that latter portion 
of the trade migrated elsewhere, and the street as- 
sumed its present appearance of wholesale warehouses, 
and general and periodical publishing houses. It was 
not long indeed before the tide of fashion carried 
many of the eminent firms westward, and the move- 
ment in that direction is still apparent. 



n^HE family of Longman can trace a publishing 
**" pedigree back to a date anterior to that of any 
other house still represented amongst us the Riving- 
tons only excepted. As in the previous chapter, we 
shall select one member necessarily that one to whom 
most public interest is attached -as the typical repre- 
sentative of the firm, touching lightly, however, upon 
all. And, in accordance with the scheme of the 
present volume, our remarks will primarily be devoted 
.to a narrative of their business connections with that 
branch of literature classical and educational works-^ 
with which the name of Longman is more immedi- 
ately associated. 

For the whole of the seventeenth century the 
Longman family occupied the position of thriving 
citizens in the busy seaport town of Bristol, then the 
Liverpool of the day, and acquired some considerable 
wealth in the manufacture of soap and sugar, achieving 
in many instances the highest honours in civic au- 
thority. Ezekiel Longman, who is described as "of 
Bristol, gentleman," died in the year 1708, leaving, by 
a second marriage, a little boy only nine years of 


age, who, as Thomas Longman, is afterwards to be 
the founder of the great Paternoster Row firm. 

By a provision of his father's will, Thomas was to 
be "well and handsomely bred and educated ac- 
cording to his fortune ;" this, we presume, was duly 
accomplished, and in June, 1716, we find that he was 
bound apprentice for seven years to Mr. John Osborn, 
bookseller, of Lombard Street, London a man in a 
good, substantial way of business, but not to be con- 
fused with the other Osbornes of the time. Unlike 
Jacob, Longman served his seven years, and reaped a 
due reward in the person of his master's daughter ; 
and, as at the expiry of his time, the house of Wil- 
liam Taylor (known to fame as the publisher of 
Robinson Crusoe) had lost its chief, Osborn being 
appointed executor for the family, we find that in 
August, 1824 "all the household goods and books 
bound in sheets " according to valuation were pur- 
chased by Longman for .2,282 9^. 6d. a very con- 
siderable sum in those days, and, towards the end of 
the month, ,230 iSs. was further paid for part shares 
in several profitable copyrights. 

In acquiring this business Longman took pos- 
session of two houses, both ancient in the trade, the 
Black Sivan and the Ship, which, through the pro- 
fitable returns of Robinson Crusoe, Taylor had amal- 
gamated into one ; and here on the self-same freehold 
ground, the immense publishing establishment of the 
modern Longmans is still standing. 

The first trade mention we find of his name occurs 
in a prospectus dated Oct., 1724, of a proposal to pub- 
lish, by subscription, The Works of the Honourable 
Robert Boyle, Esq. (the father of chemistry, and 
brother of the Earl of Cork), " to be printed for W. 


and J. Innes, at the West End of St. Paul's Church- 
yard, J. Osborn, at the Oxford Arms, in Lombard 
Street, and T. Longman, at the Ship and Black 
Swan, in Paternoster Row." In a few months after 
this Osborn followed his daughter to the Row, and, 
adding his capital to that of his son-in-law, remained 
in partnership with him until the end of his days. 

In 1/26, we find their names conjointly prefixed to 
the first edition of Sherlock's Voyages, and between 
that date and 1730 to a great variety of school books. 

All the works of importance, many even of the 
minor books, were, at that time, published not only 
by subscription in the first instance, but the remain- 
ing risk, and the trouble of a pretty certain venture, 
were divided amongst a number of booksellers : and 
the share system was so general that in the books of 
the Stationers' Company there is a column ruled off, 
before the entries of the titles of works and marked 
" Shares," and subdivided into halves, eight-twelfths, 
sixteenths, twenty-fourths, and even sixty-fourths. 
Much of the speculative portion of a bookseller's 
business in those days consisted, therefore, not in the 
original publication of books, but in the purchase and 
sale of their shares, and to this business we find that 
Thomas Longman was especially addicted. As early 
as November, 1724, he bought one-third of the Delphin 
Virgil from Jacob Tonson, junior; in 1728 a twenti- 
eth of Ainsworth's Latin Dictionary, one of the most 
profitable books of the last century, for forty pounds, 
and, much later on, one fourth part of the Arabian 
Nights 1 Entertainment for the small sum of twelve 

The chief interest of the career of the house at this 
period lies in their connection with the Cyclopedia of 


Ephraim Chambers, which was not only the parent of 
all our English encyclopaedias, but also the direct 
cause of the famous Encyclopedic of the French philo- 
sophers. Longman's share in this work, first pub- 
lished in 1/28, cost but fifty pounds, and consisted, 
probably, only of one sixty-fourth portion ; as, how^ 
ever, the proprietors died off, Longman steadily pur- 
chased all the shares that were thrown on the book* 
market, until, in the year 1740, the Stationers' book 
assigns him eleven out of the sixty-four a larger 
number than was ever held by any other proprietor, 

One of the few direct allusions to Longman's per- 
sonal character relates to his kindness to Ephraim 
Chambers. A contemporary writes in the Gentle* 
inaiis Magazine : "Mr. Longman used him with the 
liberality of a prince, and the kindness of a father ; 
even his natural absence of mind was consulted, and 
during his illness jellies and other proper refreshments 
were industriously left for him at those places where it 
was least likely that he should avoid seeing them." 
Chambers had received ^"500 over and above the 
stipulated price for this great work, and towards the 
latter end of his life was never absolutely in want of 
money ; yet from forgetfulness, perhaps from custom, 
he was parsimonious in the extreme. A friend called 
one day at his chambers in Gray's Inn, and was 
pressed to stay dinner. "And what will you give me, 
Ephraim?" asked the guest; "I dare engage you have 
nothing for dinner !" To which Mr. Chambers calmly 
replied, " Yes, I have a fritter, and if you'll stay with 
me I'll have two." 

After the death of his partner and father-in-law, 
who bequeathed him all his books and property, 
Thomas Longman seems to have prospered amazingly. 


In 1/46 he took into partnership one Thomas Shenrell; 
but, except for the fact that this name figures in con- 
junction with his for the two following years, then 
to disappear for ever, little more is known. In 
1754, however, he took a nephew into partnership, 
after which the title-pages of their works ran : 
" Printed for T. and T. Longman at the Ship in 
Pater-Noster-Row." Before this, however, he is to be 
found acting in unison with Dodsley, Millar, and 
other great publishers of the day, in the issue of such 
important works as Dr. Samuel Johnson's Dictionary 
of the English Language. On the loth of June, 1855, 
only two months after the publication of the dictionary, 
he died, and Johnson is obliged to put off his well- 
earned holiday-trip to Oxford. " Since my promise 
two of our partners are dead (Paul Knapton was the 
second) and I was solicited to suspend my excursion 
till we could recover from our confusion. Thomas 
Longman the first had no children, and left half the 
partnership stock to his nephew and namesake, the 
rest of the property going to his widow." 

Thomas Longman, the nephew, was born in 1731, 
and, at the age of fifteen, entered the publishing firm 
as an apprentice, and at the date of his uncle's death 
was only five-and-twenty. 

Under his management the old traditions were 
kept up more copyrights of standard books were 
purchased, the country trade extended, and more 
than this the business relations of the house were very 
vastly increased in the American colonies. One of 
Osborn's earliest books, by-the-way, had been entered 
at Stationers' Hall in 1712 as Psalms, Hymns, and 
Spiritual Songs of the Old and New Testament. For 
the edification and comfort of the Saints in PitUic and. 


Private, more especially in New England. The 
nephew probably followed up the colonial trade of his 
uncle and master, for at the first commencement of 
hostilities in that country he had a very large sum 
engaged in that particular business, and, to the honour 
of the succeeding colonists, several of his correspon- 
dents behaved very handsomely in liquidating their 
debts in full, even subsequent to amicable arrange- 
ments and to the peace of 1783. 

As in the case of the founder of the house, the folio 
Cyclopedia, still the only one in the field, occupied 
the chief attention of the firm. Already in 1746 it 
had reached a fifth edition ; " and whilst," adds 
Alexander Chalmers, "a sixth edition was in question 
the proprietors thought that the work might admit of 
a supplement in two additional folio volumes. This 
supplement, which Avas published in the joint names 
of Mr. Scott and Dr. Hill, though containing a number 
of valuable articles, was far from being uniformly 
conspicuous for its exact judgment and due selection, 
a small part of it only being executed by Mr. Scott, 
Dr. Hill's task having been discharged with his usual 
rapidity." There the matter stood for some years, 
when the proprietors determined to convert the whole 
into one work. Several editions were tried and found 
wanting, and finally Dr. John Calder, the friend of 
Dr. Percy, was engaged, but provisionally only, for 
the duty. He drew up an elaborate programme, con- 
taining no less than twenty-six propositions. The 
agreement, as it illustrates, in some degree, the relative 
positions of authors and publishers, may be quoted. 
Dr. Calder agreed to prepare a new edition ot 
Chambers' s Cyclopaedia to be completed in two years. 
He received 50 as a retaining fee upon signing the 


agreement, and 50 a quarter until the work was 
finally out of the printer's hands. In spite of this 
retaining fee the proprietors appear to have been 
smitten with fear, perhaps dreading a repetition of 
Dr. Hill's inaccuracies, and sent round a specimen 
sheet to the eminent literati of the day, asking their 
opinions upon the matter and the style. All the 
verdicts were unfavourable, one contemptuous critic 
complaining that the author had twice referred 
favourably to the Encyclopedia Britannica, "a Scots 
rival publication in little esteem." Dr. Johnson cut 
away a large portion of his sheet as worthless ; but, 
at poor Calder's request, who began to be perplexedly 
alarmed by all these adverse reviews, explained this 
superfluity as arising simply from trop de zele. " I 
consider the residuum which I lopped away, not as 
the consequence of negligence or inability, but as the 
result of superfluous business, naturally exerted in the 
first article. He that does too much soon learns to 
do less." Then apologizing for Calder's turbulence 
and impatience, the kindly doctor prays " that he may 
stand where he stood before, and be permitted to 
proceed with the work with which he is engaged. Do 
not refuse this request, sir, to your most humble 
servant, Samuel Johnson." Again and again the 
doctor interposed his influence, but in vain, and 
Abraham Rees, a young professor in a dissenting 
college near town, was engaged, and a new issue of 
the Cyclopaedia (still Chambers's), in weekly parts, was 
commenced in 1778, running on till 1786, attaining a 
circulation of four or five thousand, then a large one, 
for each number ; and Longman, as chief proprietor, 
must have profited exceedingly by the work. 

In the books of the Stationers' Company we find 


repeated entry of Longman as publisher or share- 
holder in such miscellaneous works as Gil Bias, 
Humphrey Clinker, and Rasselas ; and, true to the old 
traditions of the firm, educational works were by no 
means neglected. Among others we note a record of 
Cocker's Arithmetic, since proverbially and biblio- 
graphically famous. 

Cocker was an unruly master of St. Paul's School, 
twice deposed for his extreme opinions, but twice 
restored for his marvellous talents of teaching. " He 
was the first to reduce arithmetic to a purely 
mechanical art," The first edition, however, was 
published only after his death by his friend "John 
Hawkins, writing master" a copy sold by Puttick 
and Simpson, in 1851, realized 8 IDS. The fifty- 
second edition was published in 1748, and the last 
reprint, though at that time the work was in Long- 
man's hands, bears "Glasgow, 1777," on the title- 

" Ingenious Cocker now to rest tliou'rt gone, 
No art can show thee fully, but thy own, 
Thy rare arithmetic alone can show 
The vast sums of thanks we for thy labour owe.' 1 

In those days the publishers clave together in a 
manner undreamt of in these latter times of keener 
competition. Nichols, in speaking of James Robson 
(a Bond-street bookseller), and a literary club of book- 
sellers, observes that Mr. Longman, with the late 
Alderman Cadell, James Dodsley, Lockyer, Davies, 
Peter Elmsley, Honest Tom Payne of the Mew's 
Gate, and Thomas Evans of the Strand, were all 
members of this society. They met first at the 
11 Devil's Tavern," Temple-bar, then moved to the 
"Grecian," and finally from a weekly gathering, became 


a monthly meeting at the " Shakspeare." Here was 
originated the germ of many a valuable production. 
Under their auspices Davies (in whose shop Boswell 
first met Johnson) produced his only valuable work, 
the Life of Garrick. Poor Davies had been an actor 
till Churchill's satire drove him off the stage 

" He mouths a sentence as curs mouth a bone." 

From this he fled to the refuge of a bookselling shop 
in Russell-street, Covent-garden. He is described 
variously as "not a bookseller, but a gentleman 
dealing in books/' and as " learned enough for a 
clergyman." Here he strived indifferently well till 
we come upon his epitaph 

"Here lies the author, actor Thomas Davies, 
Living he shone a very rara avis ; 
The scenes he played life's audience must commend- 
He honour'd Garrick, Johnson was his friend." 

At this club meeting, too, Johnson's Lives of the Poets 
were first resolved on, and by the club clique the 
work was ultimately produced. 

William West, a bookseller's assistant, who died at 
a great age at the Charter House, in 1855, has left in 
his Fifty Years' Reminiscences, and in the pages of the 
Aldine Magazine, a number of garrulous, amusing, 
but sometimes incoherent stories of the old book- 
sellers. West says he knew all the members of the 
club, and bears witness that " Longman was a man 
of the most exemplary character both in his profession 
and in his private life, and as universally esteemed for 
his benevolence as for his integrity." He mentions in 
particular Longman's generosity in offering George 
Robinson any sum he wished on credit, when his 
business was in a critical condition, 


West adds, " I was in the habit of going to Mr. 
Longman's almost daily from the years 1785 to 1787 
or 1788, for various books for country orders, being 
what, is termed in all wholesale booksellers' shops ' a 
collector.' Mr. Norton Longman had been caused by 
his father wisely to go through this same wholesome 
routine of his profession ; and I am informed that the 
present Mr. L. (Thomas Norton Longman), although 
at the very head of the book trade, has pursued a 
similar course with his sons." 

Longman and this brings us to the subject had 
married a sister of Harris, the patentee, and long the 
manager of Covent Garden Theatre. By her he had 
three sons, and of these Thomas Norton Longman, 
born in 1771, about 1792 began to take his father's 
place in the publishing establishment ; and about this 
time Thomas Brown entered the office as an ap- 
prentice. In 1794, Mr. Owen Rees was admitted a 
member, and the firm's title was altered to " Longman 
and Co. ;" and at this time, too, the younger Evans, 
" rating," we are told, " only as third wholesale book- 
seller in England," became bankrupt, and the whole 
of his picked stock was transferred to 39, Paternoster- 
row. The stock was further increased by a legacy 
from the elder Evans to Brown's father in 1803. This 
elder Evans, as the publisher of the Morning Chronicle, 
had incurred the displeasure of Goldsmith, who, mind- 
ful of Johnson's former valour, "went to the shop," 
says Nichols, " cane in hand, and fell upon him in a 
most unmerciful manner. This Mr. Evans resented in 
a truly pugilistic method, and in a few moments the 
author of the Vicar of Wakefield was disarmed and 
stretched on the floor, to the no small diversion of the 

Thomas Longman. 


Seven years, however, before this, Thomas Longman 
the second died, on the 5th February, 1797. Of the 
position to which he had attained it is sufficient to 
mention that when the Government were about to 
impose an additional duty on paper, subsequent to 
that of 1794, the firm of Longman urged such strong 
and unanswerable arguments against it and its impolicy 
that the idea was relinquished ; and at this time the 
house had nearly .100,000 embarked in various 

Longman left his business to his eldest son, and to 
his second son, George, he bequeathed a handsome 
fortune, which enabled him to become a very extensive 
paper manufacturer at Maidstone, in Kent, and for 
some years he represented that borough in Parliament 
As a further honour, he was drawn for Sheriff of 
London, but did not serve the office. 

Edward Longman, the third son, was drowned at an 
early age in a voyage to India, whither he was pro- 
ceeding to a naval station in the East India Com- 
pany's service. 

At the time of Thomas Norton Longman's acces- 
sion to the chiefdom of the Paternoster Row firm, the 
literary world was undergoing a seething revolution* 
Genius was again let loose upon the earth to charm 
all men by her beauty, and to scare them for a while 
by her utter contempt for precedent. The torpor in 
which England had been wrapped during the whole of 
the foregone Hanoverian dynasty was changing into 
an eager feeling of unrest, and, later on, to a burning 
desire to do something, no matter what, and to do it 
thoroughly in one's own best manner, and at one's own 
truest promptings. No man saw the coming change 
more clearly than Longman ; and anxious to profit by 



the first-fruits of the future, yet careful not to cast 
away in his hurry that ponderous ballast of dictionary 
and compilation, he soon gathered all the young 
writers of the day within the precincts of his publish- 
ing fold. 

Down at Bristol, the ancestral town of both Long- 
man and Rees, Joseph Cottle had been doing honest 
service without, we fear, much profit in issuing the 
earliest works of young men who were to take the 
highest rank among their fellows. Cottle had pub- 
lished Southey's Joan of Arc in 1796,- and in 1798 
had issued the Lyrical Ballads, the joint composi- 
tion of Coleridge and Wordsworth. When, in 1800, 
Longman purchased the entire copyrights of the 
Bristol firm, at a fair and individual valuation, the 
Lyrical Ballads were set down in the bill at exactly 
nothing, and Cottle obtained leave to present the copy- 
right to the authors. In connection with Cottle and 
Longman, we must here mention a story that does 
infinite credit to both. At the very close of the 
eighteenth century, Southey and Cottle in conjunction 
prepared an edition of Chatterton's works, to be pub- 
lished by subscription for the benefit of his sister, 
whose sight was now beginning to fail her. Hitherto, 
though much money had been made from the works 
of the " boy poet," they had been printed only for the 
emolument of speculators. 

The edition unfortunately proved a failure, but 
Longman and Rees entered into a friendly arrange- 
ment with Southey, and he was able to report in 1804 
that Mrs. Newton lived to receive 184 15^. from the 
profits, when, as she expressed it, she would otherwise 
have wanted bread. Ultimately, Mary Ann Newton, 
the poet's niece, received about 600, the fruits of the 


generous exertion of a brother poet, and of the good 
feeling of a kind-hearted publisher. 

The first edition of the Lyrical Ballads did 
eventually sell out, and then Wordsworth, detaching 
his own poems from the others, and adding several 
new ones thereto, obtained .100 from Longman for 
the use of two editions, but the sale was so very slow 
that the bargain was probably unprofitable. 

In this same year 1800 the house of Longman also 
published Coleridge's translation of Schiller's Wai- 
lenstein, written in the short space of six weeks. 
Very few copies were sold, but after remaining on 
hand for sixteen years, the remainder was sold off 
rapidly at a double price. 

Southey (a Bristol man himself) met, too, with much 
kindness from the firm, but after his first poem with 
but little, as a poet, from the public. We have seen 
before that "the profits" on Madoc "amounted to 
exactly three pounds seventeen shillings and a penny." 
No wonder that he writes to a friend, " Books are now 
so dear that they are becoming articles of fashionable 
furniture more than anything else ; they who do buy 
them do not read, and they who read them do not buy 
them. I have seen a Wiltshire clothier who gives his 
bookseller no other instructions than the dimensions 
of his shelves ; and have just heard of a Liverpool 
merchant who is fitting up a library, and has told his 
bibliopole to send him Shakespeare, Milton, and Pope, 
and if any of those fellows should publish anything 
new to let him have it immediately. If Madoc 
obtains any celebrity, its size and cost will recommend 
it to those gentry libros consumere nati, born to buy 
octavos and help the revenue." Southey's prose, 
however, proved infinitely more profitable, and for 

e 2 


some years he was the chief contributor to Longman's 
Animal Review started in 1802, the same year as 
the Edinburgh Review. About this time Longman 
first went to Scotland, paid a visit to Walter Scott, 
and purchased the copyright of the Minstrelsy then 
publishing ; and in the following year Rees crossed 
the borders, and returned with an arrangement to 
publish the Lay of the Last Minstrel on the half- 
profit system, Constable having, however, a very small 
share in it. Scott's moiety of profits was 169 6s. , 
and success being then ensured, Longman'offered 500 
for the copyright, which was at once accepted. They 
afterwards added 100, "handsomely given to supply 
the loss of a fine horse which broke down suddenly 
while the author was riding with one of the worthy 
publishers" (Owen Rees). 

Already in the first few years of the century we 
find the house connected with Wordsworth, Southey, 
Coleridge, and Scott, but it was by no means entirely 
to poetry that Longman and Rees trusted. In 1799 
they purchased the copyright of Lindley Murray's 
English Grammar, one of the most profitable school 
books ever issued from the press for many years the 
annual sale of the Abridgment in England alone was 
from 48,000 to 50,000 copies. Chambers' Cyclopcedia 
was entirely re-written, re-cast, and re-christened, and 
again, under the management of Abraham Rees, after 
whom it was named, came out in quarto form in parts, 
but at a total cost of ;85. The ablest scientific and 
technical writers of the day were retained, and among 
them we find the names of Humphry Davy, John 
Abernethy, Sharon Turner, John Flaxman, and Henry 
Brougham. For the first twenty years of this century 
Rees' New Cyclopcedia filled the place that the En- 


cyclopedia Britannica "a Scots rival in little esteem'W 
was afterwards to occupy. 

In 1803, we find the trade catalogue has extended 
so much in bulk and character that it is divided into 
no less than twenty-two classes, Among their books 
we note Paley's Natural Theology (ten editions 
published in seven years), Sharon Turner's Anglo- 
Saxon History, Pinkerton's ^Geography, Cowper's Ho- 
mer, and Gifford's Juvenal. 

About this time too, they engaged very extensively 
in the old book trade, a branch of the business dis- 
carded about the year 1840. In a catalogue of the 
year 1811 we find some very curious books. Here 
are the celebrated Roxburgh Ballads, now in the 
British Museum ; a Pennant's London, marked 
.300 ; a Granger's Biographical Dictionary, ?$o ; 
Pilkington's Dictionary of Painters, 420 ; two 
volumes of Cromwelliana, ^250 ; an extraordinary 
assemblage of Caxtons, Wynkyn de Wordes, and 
other early printed books, one supposed to date from 
1446 ; a unique assemblage of Garrickiana, and 
many other articles of a matchless character.* 

Longman was himself indefatigable in business, for 
fifty years unremittingly he came from and returned 
to Hampstead on horseback ; but as the rious 
branches of the trade clearly prove, the superinten- 
dence of so vast a business was altogether beyond 
the power of any single man ; and perhaps nothing 
tended more to raise the firm to the eminent position 
it soon attained than the plan of introducing fresh 
blood from time to time ; the new members being 
often chosen on account of the zeal and talent they 
had displayed as servants of the house. In 1804 

* Bookseller, June, 1865. 


Thomas Hurst, with the whole of his trade and con- 
nection, and Cosmo Orme (the founder of the hospital 
for decayed booksellers) were admitted. In 1811, 
Thomas Brown, whom we have already noticed as an 
apprentice, became a member of the firm, and until 
his retirement in 1859, took the sole management of 
the cash department, with so regular and just a system 
that an author could always learn what was coming 
to him, and when he was to receive it- a plan not 
invariably adopted in a publisher's counting-house. 
The firm was in 1824 further strengthened by the 
admission of Bevis Green, who had been apprenticed 
to Hurst in 1807. The title of the firm at this, its 
best known, period was, therefore, " Longman, Hurst, 
Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green." When, however, 
Thomas Roberts entered, the title was changed to 
" Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts, and Green ;" 
but we are anticipating, for Roberts died as recently 
as 1865, having acquired some distinction in private 
life as a Numismatist. For the sake of convenience, 
and for the sequence of the story, it will, perhaps, be 
as well to consider the firm as represented, as in fact 
from his leading position it was by Thomas Norton 
Longman, touching only upon the others individually 
when some directly personal interest arises. Before 
all these partnerships, however, were accomplished 
facts Longman had taken a much more precious, and 
even more zealous partner in the person of Miss Mary 
Slater of Horsham, Sussex, whom he had married as 
far back as the 2nd July, 1799. 

Wordsworth of course continued his connection 
with the firm, though his profits were absolutely nil. 
Though a poetic philosopher he was not quite proof 
against the indifference of the public. In the edition 


of the Lyrical Ballads published in 1805 we find the 
significant epigraph, Quamnihil ad genium, Papinique 
tuum. In 1807, he published two new volumes, in 
which appeared many of his choicest pieces, and 
among them his first sonnets. Jeffrey, however? 
maintained that they were miserably inferior, and his 
article put an absolute stop to the sale. Wordsworth 
had, perhaps deprived himself of all right to complain, 
for his harshest reviewer did him far more justice than 
he was wont to deal out to his greatest contemporaries. 
In 1 8 14, we find Longman announcing, "Just published, 
the Excursion, being a portion of the Recluse, by 
William Wordsworth, in 4to., price 2 2s. f boards." 
Jeffrey used the famous expression " This will never 
do ;" and Hogg wrote to Southey that Jeffrey had 
crushed the poem. " What !" retorted Southey, 
" Jeffrey crush the Excursion ! Tell him he might as 
easily crush Skiddaw !" Wordsworth, who had in- 
variably a high value of his "own works, even of his 
weakest ones, writes also, " I am delighted to learn 
that the Edinburgh Aristarch has declared against the 
Excursion, as he will have the mortification of seeing 
a book enjoy a high reputation to which he has not 
contributed." For a while, however, Jeffrey's curse 
was potent, and it took six years to exhaust an edition 
of only 500 copies. We need scarcely follow Words- 
worth's various publications' (do their dates not lie on 
every table of every drawing-room in the land ?), 
but the whole returns from his literary labours up to 
1819 had not amounted to 140; and even in 1829 
he remarks that he had worked hard through a long 
life for less pecuniary emolument than a public per- 
former earns for two or three songs. 

Longman had at one time an opportunity of 


becoming Byron's publisher, but declined the English 
Bards and Scotch Reviewers on account of the violent 
attacks it contained upon his own poets those of the 
Lake school. With Scott we have seen that he had 
had dealings, and in these, at all events, Sir Walter's 
joke, that Longmanwn cst errare, did not hold good. 
Before the collective edition of 1830, 44,000 copies 
of the Lay of the Last Minstrel were sold. Though 
Longman was inclined to believe that Scott was not the 
author of Waverley, he was equally anxious to secure 
the publication of some of that extraordinary series of 
romances ; and at a time when the Ballantynes were 
in trouble, purchased Guy Mannering by granting bills 
in advance for 1500, and taking a portion of their 
stock, to the extent of about 600 more. The 
Monastery was also published by him in i2O, and he 
is said, though the authority is more than dubious, to 
have paid Scott upwards of 20,000 in about fifteen 

What Scott was to Constable, and Byron to Murray, 
that was Moore to Longman. " Anacreon Moore," as 
he loved to be called, had gained a naughty reputation 
from Mr. Thomas Littles Poems, and, in 1811, we find 
him writing to Longman " I am at last come to a 
determination to bind myself to your service, if you 
hold the same favourable disposition towards me as 
at our last conversation upon business. To-morrow I 
shall be very glad to be allowed half-an-hour's con- 
versation with you, and as I dare say I shall be up all 
night at Carlton House, I do not think I could reach 
your house before four o'clock. I told you before 
that I never could work without a retainer. It will 
not, however, be of that exorbitant nature which your 
liberality placed at my disposal the first time," Soon 


after this the Prince Regent threw over his old Whig 
friend, but Moore was so successful in his political 
warfare that he more than gained as a poet what he 
lost as a courtier, and his Two-penny Post Bag went 
through fourteen editions. He was, however, anxious to 
apply his genius to the creation of some work more 
likely to raise his reputation than the singing of las- 
civious songs, or the jerking off of political squibs. 
Accordingly Perry, the editor of ti&Morning Chronicle, 
was sent to discuss preliminary matters with Long- 
man. "'I am of opinion," said Perry, "that Mr. 
Moore ought to receive for his poem the largest price 
that has been given in our day for such a work." 
" That," replied Longman promptly, " was 3000." 
" Exactly so," rejoined the editor, " and no smaller a 
sum ought he to receive." Longman insisted upon a 
perusal beforehand : 

" Longman has communicated his readiness to 
terms, on the basis of the three thousand guineas, but 
requires a perusal beforehand ; this I have refused, 
I shall have no ifs." 

Again Moore writes, " To the honour and glory of 
romance, as well on the publisher's side as on the 
poet's, this very generous view of the transaction was 
without any difficulty acceded to ;" and again, " There 
has seldom occurred any transaction in which trade 
and poetry have shone so satisfactorily in each other's 
eyes." So Moore left London to find a quiet resting- 
place " in a lone cottage among the fields in Derby- 
shire," and there Lalla Rookh was written ; the 
snows of two or three Derbyshire winters aiding, he 
avers, his imagination, by contrast, to paint the ever- 
lasting summers and glowing scenery of the East. 
The arrangement had hitherto been verbal, but on 


going up to town, in the winter of 1814, he 'received 
the following agreement from Longman. 


" That upon your giving into our hands a poem of yours of the length 
of Rokeby, you shall receive from us the sum of ,3000. We also 
agree to the stipulation that the few songs which you may introduce 
into the work shall be considered as reserved for your own setting." 

Soon Moore writes to say that about 4000 lines are 
perfectly finished, but he is unwilling to show any 
portion of the work until the 6000 are completed, for 
fear of disheartenment. He requests Longman, how- 
ever, "to tell our friends that they are done/a poetic 
licence to prevent the teasing wonderment of the 
literary quidnuncs at my being so long about it." Long- 
man replies that " we are certainly impatient for the 
perusal of your poem, but solely for our gratification. 
Your sentiments are always honourable." At length, 
after very considerable delays on the part of the 
author, the poem appeared, and its wonderful success 
fully justified the publisher's extraordinary liberality. 
Moore drew a thousand pounds for the discharge of 
his debts, and left, temporarily only, we fear, ^"2000 
in Longman's hands, the interest of which was to be 
paid quarterly to his father. 

This was Moore's greatest effort ; nor did he attempt 
to surpass it. One substantial proof of admiration of 
the poet's performance should not be overlooked : 
" The young Bristol lady," says Moore in his diary, 
Dec. 23rd, 1818, "who inclosed me three pounds after 
reading Lalla RookJi had very laudable ideas on the 
subject ; and if every reader of Lalla RookJi had 
done the same I need never have written again." 

As it was, however, he was soon obliged to set to 


work once more this time as a biographer. The lives 
of Sheridan, Fitzgerald, and many others, bear testi- 
mony to his industry ; but in spite, perhaps because, 
of their pleasant gossiping tone, they are far from 
accurate. At one time he had so many lives upon his 
hands together, that he suggested the feasibility of 
publishing a work to be called the Cat, which should 
contain nine of them. His Life of Byron we have 
already alluded to, but we must again call attention 
to Longman's generosity in allowing him to transfer 
the work to Murray. Longman was not less eager in 
his kindness to his clients in private than in business 
relations. His Saturday "Weekly Literary Meet- 
ings" were about the pleasantest and most sociable in 
London. As early as 1804 we find Southey writing 
to Coleridge : " I wish you had called on Longman ; 
that man has a kind heart of his own, and I wish you 
to think so ; the letter he sent me was a proof of it. 
Go to one of his Saturday evenings, you will see a 
coxcomb or two, and a dull fellow or two ; but you 
will, perhaps, meet Turner and Duppa, arjd Duppa is 
worth knowing." Throughout the day the new pub- 
lications were displayed in a separate department for 
the use of the literary men, and house dinners were of 
frequent occurrence ; the whole of the " Lake School" 
were steady recipients of Longman's hospitality when- 
ever they came to town. 

As, perhaps, the strongest proof of a man's kindli- 
ness of heart, Longman is invariably represented as 
being " almost adored by his domestics, from his 
uniform attention to the comforts of those who have 
grown gray in his service," He was a liberal patron 
of the " Association for the Relief of Decayed Book- 
sellers," and was also one of the " Court of Assistants 


of the Company of Stationers," but, with the charac- 
teristic modesty of his disposition, paid the customary 
fine to be allowed to decline the offices of warden and 
master of the company. 

For many years the " House " had been London 
agents and part proprietors of the Edinburgh Review, 
and when the commercial crash of 1826 destroyed 
Constable's huge establishment, the property was 
virtually in their own hands, and the number for 
December, 1826, is printed for " Longman, Rees, 
Orme, Browne, and Green, London, and Adam Black, 
Edinburgh ;" and if we " read between the lines" of the 
new designation we learn that Hurst had been con- 
cerned in some bill transactions, and had been this 
year compelled to retire (he died an inmate of the 
Charter House, in 1847), and we may also gather 
something of the strong connection that was to be 
formed with the house of Adam Black. 

Jeffrey retired from the editorial chair in 1829, but 
Macney Napier, the editor of the Encyclopedia 
Britannica was appointed in his stead, and the literary 
management of the journal was still continued in 
Edinburgh. Sydney Smith ceased to write for the 
Revieivm 1827 ; but in 1825 an article was contributed 
on Milton, by a young man of five-and-twenty ; and 
Mr. Thomas Babington Macaulay, who, as Moore 
said, could do any mortal thing but forget, was des- 
tined to be, not only the most brilliant of the daring 
and talented band of Edinburgh Reviewers, but even- 
tually, one of the most powerful contributors to Long- 
man's fortune and reputation.* 

* As we shall have no other opportunity of referring to the third in 
rank of the leading quarterlies, we must, perforce, compress its history 
in a foot-note, The Westminster Revixv was started more than fifty 


To return again to educational works, we find that 
in Hangnail's Questions a property had been acquired 
that fully rivalled Murray's Mrs. Markham. A type 
now of a hideously painful and parrot-like system of 
teaching (what negations of talent our sisters and 
mothers owe to this encyclopaedic volume we shudder 
to sum up !) it was imitated and printed in every 
direction. Poor Miss Mangnall ! who recollects now- 
a-days that in 1806 she commenced her literary life 
with a volume of poems ? A very similar book, but 
on scientific questions, was Mrs. Marcef-s Conversa- 
tions, which was not only profitable to Longman, but 
American booksellers, up to the year 1853, had 
reaped an abundant harvest from the sale of 160,000 

The attempts already made by Constable and 
Murray to promote the sale of cheap and yet excel- 
lent books, led Longman to establish his Cabinet 
Encyclopedia. The management was given to Dr. 
Lardner, then a professor at the London University, 

years ago, by Jeremy Bentham, who was succeeded in editorship by Sir 
John Browning, in conjunction with General Perronet Thompson, whose 
labours in the cause of radical reform gave him considerable notoriety 
at the time. They made way for the accomplished statesman Sir 
William Molesworth, the editor of Hobbes. A profounder thinker still, 
Mr. John Stuart Mill, followed. Most of his philosophical essays 
appeared in its pages, at a time when Grote and Mr. Carlyle were both 
contributing. For more than twenty years now the Review has been in 
the hands of Dr. Chapman, who, beginning life as a bookseller in New- 
gate Street, was the first English publisher to recognise the value of 
Emerson's writings. Under Dr. Chapman, what is now the great 
feature the Quarterly Summary of Contemporary Literature was in- 
troduced. The Review has lately attracted much attention by the bold 
manner in which the "Social Evil" and the "Contagious Diseases 
Acts " have been discussed in its columns, and these articles are gene- 
rally attributed to the able pen of the editor himself. 


and all, or nearly all, Longman's literary connections 
were pressed into service on his staff of contributors. 
In the prospectus we see the names of Scott, Moore, 
Mackintosh, Coleridge, Miss Edgeworth, Herschell, 
Long, Brewster, De Morgan, Thirlwall, and, of course, 
Southey. The Times gave more than a broad hint 
that some of the names were put forward as lures, 
and nothing else. Southey was anxious that this 
"insinuation" should be brought before a court of 
law, where the writer may be " taught that not every 
kind of slander may be published with impunity." 
The proprietors, however, contented themselves with 
publishing books, most indubitably written by the 
authors whose names they bore. The first volume 
was published in 1829, and at the close of the series, 
in 1846, one hundred and thirty-three volumes had 
een issued, the whole of which were eminently suc- 
cessful, and some few of them, such as Sir John 
Herschell's Astronomy, in particular, have since been 
expanded into recognised and standard works. 

Another valuable work which has been a constant 
source of wealth to the firm, somewhat similarin scopeto 
the preceding, was McCulloch's Commercial Dictionary, 
first published in 1832 ; in which year the present Mr. 
Thomas Longman was admitted a partner, being 
joined by his brother, Mr. William Longman, in 1839. 
With young Mr. Thomas Longman, Moore appears to 
have been particularly friendly, addressing him always 
as " Dear Tom." As far back as 1829, we see the poet 
requesting that some one might be sent over to have 
" poor Barbara's " grave made tidy, for fear that his 
wife Bessy, who was about to make a loving pilgrimage 
thither, might be shocked, and we read afterwards that 
" young Longman kindly rode over twice to Hornsey 


for the purpose." In Moore's diary, too, for 1837, we 
find many regrets for the loss of Rees a man " who 
may be classed among those solemn business-ties, the 
breaking of which by death cannot but be felt 
solemnly, if not deeply." And again, later on, in 
1840: "Indeed, I will venture to say that there are 
few tributes from authors to publishers more honour- 
able (or I will fairly say more deserved) than those 
which will be found among my papers relative to the 
transactions for many years between myself and my 
friends of the ' Row.' " 

Thornas Longman the third was now an old man, 
but still constantly attentive to business. In his time 
he had seen many changes, but none more striking 
than those that occupied his latter days. Madoc was 
still lying on his shelves, but Southey was poet-lau- 
reate. Scott and Byron had in succession entranced 
the world. They had now withdrawn, and no third 
king arose to demand recognition. It was in the calm 
that followed that Wordsworth obtained a hearing. 
In 1839, the University of Oxford conferred upon him 
the degree of Doctor of Laws, amid the enthusiastic 
applause of a crowded theatre. Younger men were 
coming to the fore, and though his contemporaries 
were fast dying off, still Longman was as eager for 
business as ever, and as ready, when it was over, for his 
chief pleasure the enjoyments of domestic life ; for 
his favourite pursuits the love of music and the cul- 
ture of fruits and flowers. As far as health and activity 
went, though in his /2nd year, he was still in the prime 
of life, when, on his usual ride to town, his horse fell, 
near the Small-pox Hospital, St. Pancras, and he was 
thrown over the animal's head and struck the ground 
with such violence as to fracture his skull and injure 


his spine ; and in a few days afterwards he died at 
his residence, Greenhill House, Hampstead, on 28th 
August, 1842 leaving a blank, not only in his own 
family circle, but in the hearts of all who had known 
him as a master, or had reaped a benefit from the uni- 
form generosity of his business dealings. 

Mr. McCulloch and many of his literary clients 
erected a monument, the bust of which, by Mr. 
Moore, is said to be a good likeness, to his memory 
an affectionate tribute seldom paid by men-of-letters 
to a publisher now standing in Hampstead church. 

His personalty was sworn under ^"200,000, and was 
principally left to his widow and family. The former, 
however, did not long survive her sorrow, but died 
some ten weeks after her husband. 

Their second son, Mr. Charles Longman, of Two 
Waters, joined Mr. Dickenson, in the trade of whole- 
sale stationers and paper-makers, in which they have 
since then attained a pre-eminence. Their eldest 
daughter married Mr. Spottiswoode, the Queen's 
printer, and the third daughter is the wife of Reginald 
Bray, Esq., of Shere. 

The succession of a Thomas Longman to the chief- 
dom of the house is, Mr. Knight says somewhere, as 
certain as the accession of a George was in the Hano- 
verian dynasty : and the present Mr. Longman, aided 
by his brother William, took command of the gigantic 
firm in Paternoster Row. The very year of their 
father's death was a year to be long remembered in 
the annals of the firm for an unusually successful "hit," 
in the production of the Lays of Ancient Rome. Not 
even in the palmy days of Scott and Byron was such 
an immediate and enormous circulation attained. In 
1844, Macaulay ceased to contribute to the Edinburgh 


Review nearly twenty years from the date of his first 
contributions ; receiving latterly, we believe, 100 as a 
minimum price for an article. A collective edition of 
these essays was published in America ; and within five 
years sixty thousand volumes were sold, and, as many 
of these were imported into England, Macaulay autho- 
rised the proprietors of the Review to issue an English 
edition, which certainly proved the most remunera- 
tive collection of essays ever published in this or any 
other country. The English edition contains twenty- 
seven essays, in some editions twenty-six. The Phila- 
delphia edition contains eleven additional essays.* 

These essays were all very excellent, but Macaulay's 
admirers regretted with Tom Moore, " that his great 
powers should not be concentrated upon one great 
work, instead of being scattered in Sibyl's leaves," and 
great was the satisfaction in 1841, when it was known 
that he was engaged upon a History of England, and 
the publication of the work was looked forward to 
with the greatest eagerness ; and in 1849 the first two 
volumes appeared. Success was immediate " Within 
six months," says the Edinburgh Review, " the book 
has run through five editions, involving an issue of 

* I. 










'OnDryden." (E. R., 1828.) 

'History." (E. R. t 1828.) 

'Mirabeau." (E. R. t 1832.) 

'Cowley and Milton." 

' Mitford's Greece." 

' Athenian Orator." 

' Barere's Memoirs." 

'Mill's Essay on Government." (E. R., 1829.) 

'Bentham's Defence of Mill." (E. R., 1829.) 

' Utilitarian Theory of Government." (E. A'., 1829.) 

'Charles Churchill." 

Many of these may be found in the volume of Miscellanies published 
by Longmans. It has been denied that No. XI. is by Macaulay at alK 



above 18,000 copies." By 1856, the sale of these two 
volumes had reached nearly 40,000 copies, and in the 
United States 125,000 copies were sold in five years. 
For the privilege of publication for ten years, it is said 
that Mr. Longman allowed the author 600 per 
annum ; the copyright remaining in Macaulay's pos- 

This success, however, was nothing to that achieved 
by the third and fourth volumes ; and the day of their 
publication, i/th Dec., 1855, will be long remembered 
in the annals of Paternoster Row. It was presumed 
that 25,000 copies would be quite sufficient to meet 
the first public demand ; but this enormous pile of 
books, weighing fifty-six tons, was exhausted the first 
day, and eleven thousand applicants were still unsatis- 
fied. In New York one house sold 73,000 volumes 
(three different styles and prices) in ten days, and 
25,000 more were immediately issued in Philadel- 
phia 10,000 were stereotyped, printed, and in the 
hands of the publishers within fifty working hours. 
The aggregate sale in England and America, within 
four weeks of publication, is said to have exceeded 
150,000 copies. Macaulay is also stated to have re- 
ceived ; 1 6,000 from Mr. Longman for the copyright 
of the third and fourth volumes.* 

Upon the death of Mr. Macney Napier, the editor- 
ship of the Rcviciv was transferred to Mr. Empson, 
Jeffrey's son-in-law ; while he in turn was succeeded 
by Sir George Cornewall Lewis, who finally gave place 
to Mr. H. Reeve. 

In the way of cheap literature the "Travellers' 

* For a further account of these extraordinary sales, see Allibone's 
Dictionary of English Literature, vol. ii., from which many of the above 
facts have been drawn, 


Library," commenced in 1851, is deservedly worthy 
of notice. In this year occurred the unusual pheno- 
menon of a pamphlet, bearing on its title-page the 
joint names of Mr. Longman and Mr. Murray. This 
was a reprint of some correspondence with Earl 
Russell, in his official capacity, as to the injustice of 
the State undertaking the publication of school-books 
at the national expense, and compelling the govern- 
ment schools to adopt them thus creating a perfect 
monopoly and interfering with private enterprise, The 
books in question were published by the Irish Educa- 
tional Commissioners, but more than three-quarters of 
them were eventually sold in England many of 
them, especially the collection of poetry, were, it was 
further urged, pirated from copyright works. The 
correspondence was long and protracted on the 
side of the publishers ; and as is often the case in an 
important public question, Earl Russell's replies con- 
sisted of the merest acknowledgment. Mr. Long- 
man had, however, an opportunity of a pleasant re- 
venge. Tom Moore had left all his papers, letters, 
and journals to the care of his friend, Earl Russell a 
man who, as Sydney Smith said, thought he could do 
anything " build St. Paul's, cut for the stone, or com- 
mand the Channel Fleet." The one thing apparently 
he could not do was the editorship or composition of 
a Poet's Life. The. material, indeed, was ample, and 
seems to have been printed pretty much as it came to 
hand. However, the sum which Mr. Longman gave 
for the papers appeared, together with the pension, an 
ample provision for the devoted " Bessy." 

Among the later efforts of the firm we may here 
mention the issue of many finely illustrated works, 
and we must also chronicle the fact that in 1863 



the business connections arid stock of the Parkers 
were added to the enormous trade of the leviathan 
firm. Giving a gldrice at the changes that have taken 
place in the members of the firm, we have merely 
space to note that at Cosmo Orme's death in 1859 
Mr. Brown retired, and at his decease on the 24th of 
March, 1869, left an immense fortune, more than 
100,000 going in various legacies, of which the Book- 
sellers' Provident Retreat and Institution each re- 
ceived 10,000, the Royal Literary Fund 3000, and 
the Stationers' Company in all 10,000, the balance 
after the various legacies, and there were no less than 
sixty-eight legatees, going to the grandchildren of 
Thomas Norton Longman. The personalty of Mr. 
B. E. Green, who died about the same date, was 
sworn under 200,000. Two of the former assistants, 
Mr. Dyer and Mr. Reader, have, on the good old 
system, been admitted to the firm, which now stands 
" Longmans, Green, Reader, and Dyer." Mr. Roberts, 
as before stated, died in 1865. 

Both the Messrs. Longman are well known for their 
literary talents Mr. Thomas Longman as editor of 
a magnificent edition of the New Testament; and 
Mr. William as an historical author. The first of his 
works was, we believe, privately printed, A Tour in the 
Alps, by W. L. Mr. William Longman has always 
been an enthusiastic Alpine traveller. He has, how- 
ever, more recently published a History of the Life and 
Times of Edward III., in two volumes, and at our 
present writing a new work has just appeared in which 
he says playfully, " I trust authors will forgive me, 
and not revenge themselves by turning publishers ;" 
and he adds heartily and generously, "There is, 
nevertheless, some advantage in a publisher dabbling 


in literature, for it shows him the difficulties with 
which an author has to contend the labour which is 
indispensable to produce a work which may be relied 
on arid it increases the sympathy which should, and 
which in these days does, exist between author and 
publisher." These latter lines surely form a very 
fitting sentence with which to conclude our short 
history of the house of Longman, 



1790 to 1820 Edinburgh richly deserved the 
honourable title of " Modern Athens." Her Uni- 
versity and her High School, directed by men pre- 
eminently fitted for their duties, capable of firing their 
pupils' minds with a noble purpose, endowed with a lofty 
ideal of a master's responsibilities in fact, possessed 
of all the qualities that Dr. Arnold afterwards dis- 
played elsewhere attracted and educated a set of 
young men, unrivalled, perhaps, in modern times for 
genius and energy, for wit and learning. Nothing, 
then, was wanting to their due encouragement but a 
liberal patron, and this position was speedily occupied 
by a publisher, who, in his munificence and venturous 
spirit, soon outstripped his boldest English rival 
whose one fault was, in fact, that of always being a 
Maecenas, never a tradesman. 

Archibald Constable was born on the 24th of Feb- 
ruary, 1776, at Kellie, in the parish of Carnbee in 
Fifeshire. He was the son of Thomas Constable, 


who, through his sagacity in rural matters, had risen 
to the position of land steward or baillie to the Earl 
of Kellie. The first thirteen or fourteen years of 
Archibald's life were passed beneath his father's roof, 
and his education, such as the parish school of Carnbee 
then afforded, consisted of a course of reading in the 
vernacular tongue, writing, arithmetic, and some ele^ 
mentary lessons in trigonometry, and beyond this 
humble curriculum, we believe his subsequent acqui- 
sitions did not much extend. Still, though he never 
attained any proficiency in academical studies, his 
native talents and address generally enabled him to 
both surmount and conceal it. 

From an early age Archibald was possessed of a 
desire to enter upon a bookseller's useful career a 
desire in his case not altogether unmixed with the 
hope of acquiring literary distinction. In 1788 there- 
fore, he became apprenticed to Mr. Peter Hill, book- 
seller of Edinburgh, the old friend and correspondent 
of Burns. While a lad in Hill's shop he seems to 
have devoted his leisure hours to the acquisition of 
that knowledge of the early and rare productions of 
the Scottish press, and of all publications relating 
generally to the history, antiquities, and literature of 
Scotland, for which, throughout his subsequent career, 
he continued to exhibit a strong predilection. About 
the time of the expiration of his apprenticeship he 
married the daughter of David Willison, a printer, 
who, though previously very averse to the match, was 
subsequently of some service in enabling him to start 
for himself. Having hired a small shop in the High 
Street, afterwards rendered conspicuous by his cele- 
brity as a publisher, he issued, in November, 1795, the 
first of his Sale Catalogues of rare and curious books, 


which soon drew to his shop all the bibliographers 
and lovers of learning in the city. In this line of 
trade he speedily acquired considerable eminence, not 
so much by the extensiveness of his stock, for his 
capital was of the smallest, as by his personal activity, 
his congenial curiosity, and his quick intelligence. 
Here it was that Heber, in the course of his biblioma- 
niacal prowlings, came across Leyden, perched per- 
petually on a ladder reading some venerable folio, 
which his purse, forbade him to purchase, but which 
through Constable's kindness was placed in this 
manner at his disposal. Heber soon brought him 
under Scott's notice, and thus had the pleasure of 
introducing the two most promising young men of 
the day to each other. Constable had, however, an 
ambition too strong to be satisfied with the routine 
business of a second-hand book-shop. Even before 
his shop in the High Street was fairly opened, he had 
himself offered a book to the trade a reprint of 
Bishop Beveridge's Private Thoughts on Religion, 
struck off coarsely upon a whitey-brown sort of " tea- 
paper ;" but still it was his first, and, as Archibald 
proudly said, " it was a pretty enough little bookie !" 

Among other publications in which from his first 
outset he had been engaged, and which at the time he 
esteemed as by no means inconsiderable, were Camp- 
bell's " History of Scottish Poetry," Dalzell's " Frag- 
ments of Scottish History," and Leyden's edition of 
the "Complaint of Scotland." In 1801 he acquired 
the property of the Scots Magazine, a miscellany 
which had commenced in 1739, and which was still 
esteemed as a repository of curious facts. This 
congenial publication engaged at first a considerable 
share of his personal attention, and, aided by the 

Archibald Constable. 



talents of Leyden, Murray, and Macneil, its reputation 
as a critical journal was raised into some importance. 
Of all the extraordinary geniuses with whom Con- 
stable came into contact, none were more conspicuous 
to those near enough to judge than Leyden, his first 
editor of the periodical. A poet, an antiquarian, an 
Orientalist, he will long be distinguished among those 
whom the elasticity and ardour of genius have raised 
to distinction from an obscure and humble origin. 
The. son of a day labourer at Denholm, he had, by 
sheer force of will, worked his way to the college of 
Edinburgh, where he at once obtained the friendship 
of many eminent literary men. His acquaintance 
with Scott soon introduced him into the best society 
in Edinburgh which was then the most intellectual 
society in Europe and here his wild uncouthness of 
demeanour did not at all interfere with the general 
appreciation of his genius, his gigantic endowments, 
and his really amiable virtues. Fixing his ambition 
on the East, where he hoped to rival the achievements 
of Sir William Jones, he obtained in 1802 the promise 
of some literary appointment in the East India Com- 
pany's service ; but when the time drew near it was 
discovered that the patronage of the season had been 
exhausted, with the exception of one surgeon-as- 
sistant's commission, and he was informed that if he 
wished to accept it he must qualify within six months. 
He grappled at once with the task, and accomplished 
what takes other men three or four years in attain- 
ment within the incredibly short space of six months. 
He sailed for India in 1803, an d died in 1811, at the 
early age of thirty-six, having in the seven years of 
his sojourn achieved the reputation of the most mar- 
vellous of Orientalists, His poetical remains were 


collected and given to the public in 1821, and exhibit 
in some instances a power of numbers which for mere 
melody of sound has seldom been surpassed in the 
English language. 

In 1802, Constable commenced the Farmer's 
Magazine, under the management of an able East 
Lothian agriculturist, Mr. R. Brown, then of Markle. 
This work enjoyed a reputation contemporary with 
the whole of his business life. Altogether, Constable 
was making fair way as a publisher, when, in 1 802, the 
Edinburgh Review burst like a bombshell upon an 
astonished world, and gave him just reason to believe 
that his professional fortune was thoroughly ensured 
in the most glorious manner. 

The origin of the Review, like the beginnings of all 
things, is wrapped in doubt and mystery. Hitherto 
in the critical department of English literature, a 
review had been little more than a peg upon which to 
hang books for advertisement, and in which the 
general bearings of science, literature, and politics 
were left almost untouched. In Scotland, criticism 
was at a still lower ebb, for the country had possessed 
no regular review at all since the old Edinburgh 
Review had expired in 1756, after a flickering exist- 
ence of a twelvemonth. 

" One day," writes Sydney Smith, "we happened 
to meet in the eighth or ninth storey (it was the third) 
of a flat in Buccleuch-place, the elevated residence of 
the then Mr. Jeffrey. I proposed that we should get 
up a review. This was acceded to with acclamations. 
I was appointed editor, and remained long enough in 
Edinburgh to edit the first number of the Edinburgh 
Review. The motto I proposed was 


' Tenui musam meditamur avena. ' 
' We cultivate literature upon a little oatmeal.' 

But this was too near the truth to be admitted, and 
so we took our present grave motto from Publius 
Lyrus, of whom none of us had, I am sure, read a 
single line ; and so began what has since turned out 
to be a very important and able journal. When I left 
Edinburgh it fell into the stronger hands of Lord 
Jeffrey and Lord Brougham, and reached the 
highest point of popularity and success." 

It was resolved to bring out the first number of the 
work in June, 1802 ; but its outset was surrounded 
with many difficulties, arising from want of experience 
in its chief conductors. The meetings of the conspi- 
rators were held in a little room off Willison's (Con- 
stable's father-in-law's) office in Craig's-court, to which 
each man was requested to steal singly, by whichever 
way would be least suspicious ; and there they 
examined and criticised each other's productions, 
and corrected the proof sheets as they were thrown 
off. Here it was that Jeffrey once rushed down 
excitedly into Willison's printing-office, crying, 
" Where is your pepper-box, man your pepper- 
box ?" In vain the printer declared he had no 
such useful article on the premises ; Jeffrey persisted 
that the proof sheets must have been dusted with 
commas from a pepper-box, so lavish had the printer 
been with his points. Through various delays, typo- 
graphical and otherwise, the first number, as we have 
seen, did not appear until the following November. 

Lord Brougham, in the first volume of his recently- 
published autobiography, flatly contradicts this ac- 
count. " Nothing," he says, " can be more imaginary 
than nearly the whole of it." Still, when Sydney 


Smith published his version of the history, neither 
Lord Brougham nor any other person interested took 
the trouble to contradict it ; and we are inclined 
to accept rather an account written within a short 
time of the foundation of the Review than to receive 
another version written by an octogenarian at an 
interval of more than half a century. A letter, more- 
over, of Sydney Smith's, first published in the 
Athenceum of April 1st, 1871, shows clearly that the 
proprietors of the journal presented him "with books 
to the value of 100 (corrected to i 14) as a me- 
morial of their respect for having planned and contri- 
buted to a work which to them has been a source of 
reputation as well as of emolument." On the other 
hand, Sydney Smith's editorship certainly did not 
extend beyond the first number, and was probably 
even in that subject to the direction of Jeffrey. 

The list of contributions to the first four numbers 
may, however, be accepted as indisputable evidence 
of Brougham's enormous powers of work. To these 
four numbers he contributed twenty-one articles, be- 
sides portions of four others. Smith contributed eigh- 
teen, Jeffrey sixteen, and Horner seven. Brougham, 
too, kept up this rate of contribution more 
steadily than any of his colleagues. To the first 
twenty numbers he contributed no less than eighty 
articles, Jeffrey seventy-five, Smith twenty- three, and 
Horner fourteen. By this time the new periodical 
was fairly launched, and the additional services of 
such men as Play fair, Thomas Brown, Walter Scott, 
Hallam, Murray, and Stodhart, had been secured. 

The extensive circulation and reputation of the 
Edinburgh Review was, Scott himself says, due to 
two circumstances ; first that it was entirely unin- 


fluenced by the booksellers; and, secondly, the regular 
payment of editor and contributors : Jeffrey receiving, 
from the commencement of his labours, 300 per 
annum (afterwards increased to 800), whilst every 
contributor was compelled, even if wealthy, to accept 
a minimum bonus of 10 (afterwards raised to 16) 
per sheet. 

Never before had the enterprise of young and 
almost unknown men started so ambitious a scheme, 
and never since have pluck and learning, talent and 
genius been so amply rewarded. They found the 
world of English society, English literature, and 
English politics warped and dwarfed scared by the 
French Revolution and the American Republic into a 
dormant state of Toryism they found matters thus, 
and in an incredibly short time they almost changed 
the current of the national thought. Jeffrey, with his 
clear, legal mind, his startling and brilliant manner of 
expression, his sarcasm cold and sharp-edged as a 
Toledo blade, unfortunately only too capable of 
wounding too deeply won the position of the greatest 
English critic of all time, and of the most eminent Scot- 
tish lawyer of the day achieving the highest honours 
open to the advocates of Edinburgh. Brougham, 
with his ponderous learning, his marvellous versatility, 
his immense powers of work, became not only the first 
English lawyer, but one of the first English states- 
men of his time. Sydney Smith, the wittiest man 
certainly of his century, might have attained the 
highest honours open to his calling, had he not pre- 
ferred the more humble and more praiseworthy career 
of being a liberal clergyman at a time when the 
wearers of his cloth were one and all rank Tories to 
the backbone, 


Constable, who had at first been rather startled and 
alarmed at the design of the Edinburgh Review, was 
not prepared, any more than the projectors themselves, 
for its immediate and splendid success. Without a 
publisher of his cast of mind the work, however, might 
have encountered some difficulties, and he was not 
slow to perceive, nor backward to follow, that line of 
conduct towards its conductors, without the ob- 
servance of which the new relations between them 
could not long have been sustained harmoniously. 
The present proprietors of the work became, some 
years after its commencement, sharers of the property, 
but the publishing department remained, we believe, 
under his direction for many years. 

In 1804 Constable assumed as partner Alexander 
Gibson Hunter, of Blackness, and from that time the 
business was carried on under the title of Archibald 
Constable and Co. In the following year, 1805, he 
added to the list of his periodicals the Medical and 
Surgical Journal, a work projected in concert with 
Dr. Andrew Duncan, and which existed till 1855, 
when it was united to the Medical Journal of Science. 
It was in this year, also, that the firm published a 
poem, which was eventually to do more for the en- 
largement of their business and the honour of their 
name than even the famous Review itself. 

Walter Scott, as we have seen, while still un- 
known to fame, had been a frequent visitor at Con- 
stable's old book-shop. The publishers of the first 
edition of the Lay of tJic Last Minstrel were Long- 
man and Co. of London, and Archibald Constable 
and Co. of Edinburgh ; the latter firm taking but a 
small venture in the risk. -The profit was to be di- 
vided equally between the author and the publishers, 


and Scott's portion amounted to 169 6s. Longman, 
when a second edition was called for, offered 500 for 
the copyright, which was immediately accepted, but 
they afterwards added, as the Introduction says, "100 
in their own unsolicited kindness." In the history of 
British poetry nothing had ever equalled the demand 
for the Lay of the Last Minstrel. 44,000 copies were 
disposed of before Scott superintended the edition of 
1830, to which the biographical introductions were 

In the ensuing year Constable issued a beautiful 
edition of what he termed Works of Walter Scott, 
Esq., comprising the poem just mentioned, the " Min- 
strelsy of the Scottish Border," " Sir Tristram," and a 
series of " Lyrical Ballads." 

In 1806 it was rumoured that Scott had a new poem 
in hand. Longman at once opened negotiation as to 
its purchase, but in vain ; and in a short time the 
London publishers heard with a feeling of jealousy, 
not unmixed with honest amazement, that Constable 
had offered one thousand guineas for a poem which 
had not yet been completed, and of which he had not 
even seen the scheme. 

It may be gathered from the Introduction of 1830 
that private circumstances of a delicate nature ren- 
dered it desirable for Scott to obtain the immediate 
command of such a sum ; the price was actually paid 
long before the poem was published ; and it suited 
well with Constable's character to imagine that his 
readiness to advance the money may have outstripped 
the calculations of more experienced dealers. 

The bargain having, however, been concluded he was 
too wary to keep the venture entirely to himself, and he 
consequently tendered one-fourth of the copyright to 


Mr. Miller of Albemarle^Street, and to Mr. Murray, 
then of Fleet Street, London, and in both cases the 
offer was eagerly accepted. 

Marmion, the poem in question, which had been 
announced by an advertisement in 1857, as Six 
Epistles from Ettrick Forest, met with an immense suc- 
cess, and 2000 copies, at a guinea and a half each, were 
disposed of in less than a month. 

As an instance of the freedom Constable left to 
Jeffrey in the conduct of the Review, we are not a little 
astonished to read that the venture, in which he had 
risked so much, was attacked in a most slashing man- 
ner in his own journal. Jeffrey, thinking nothing of 
so ordinary a circumstance, sent the article to Scott 
with a note stating that he would come to dinner on 
the following Tuesday. Scott, though wounded by 
the tone of the Review t did his best to conceal it. Mrs. 
Scott, however, was very cool in her manner, and, as 
Jeffrey was taking leave, could no longer restrain her 
pique, and in her broken English " Well, guid night, 
Mr. Jeffrey ; dey tell me you have abused Scott in the 
Review ; and I hope Mr. Constable has paid you well 
for writing it." This anecdote, insignificant in itself, 
prepares us to some extent for the coldness between 
them, which led Scott to originate;the Quarterly Re- 

Emboldened still further by the success of Mar- 
mion, Constable now engaged Scott to edit the works 
of Swift, and as Scott had several like engagements 
on hand he held, in fact, five separate agreements 
at the same time, for the London publishers offered 
him ^"1500 for his new undertaking. 

Constable was at this time in an apparently assured 
line of success. Though of a very sanguine nature 


a quality without which no projector could possibly 
succeed he was one of the most sagacious persons 
who ever followed his profession. A brother poet of 
Scott says of him : " Our butteracious friend turns 
up a deep draw-well ;" and another eminent writer 
still more intimately connected had already christened 
him "the Crafty "a title which, of all the flying 
burrs, was the one that stuck the firmest. His fair 
and handsome physiognomy was marked by an un- 
mistakable and bland astuteness of expression. He 
generally avoided criticism as well as authorship, both 
being out of his " proper line." 

But of this " proper line," and his own qualification 
for it, his esteem was ample. The one flaw, and the 
fatal flaw, in his character as a business man was his 
hatred of accounts, for he systematically refused during 
the most vigorous years of his life to examine or sign 
a balance sheet. Scott, in describing his appearance, 
says, "Ay, Constable is indeed a grand-looking chield. 
He puts me in mind of Fielding's apology for Lady 
Booby to wit that Joseph Andrews had an air which 
to those who had not seen many noblemen, would 
give an idea of nobility." His conversation was 
manly and vigorous, abounding in Scotch anecdotes 
of the old times, and he could, when he had a mind, 
control the extravagant vanity which at times made 
him ridiculous. His advice was often useful to Scott, 
and more than one of the subjects of the novels, 
and many of the titles, were due to his recommenda- 
tions. Cadell, his partner, says that in his high moods 
he used to stalk up and down the room exclaiming, 
" By God ! I am all but the author of the Waverley 
novels !" 

Of course, as a successful publisher, Constable was 



overwhelmed with the manuscripts of embryo genius. 
One or two stories are worth repeating of the men 
who applied to him, but in vain. Hogg, the Ettrick 
Shepherd, had already sold a volume of minor poems 
to Constable, when setting to work in earnest he went 
to him again ; but "the Crafty" was too wise to buy a 
pig in a poke, and refused to have anything to do with 
the matter until he had seen the MS. This reasonable 
request the poet refused with, " What skill have you 
about the merit of a book ?" " It may be so, Hogg," 
replied the Jupiter Tonans of Scottish publishers ; 
" but I know as well how to sell a book as any man, 
which should be some consequence of yours, and I 
know too how to buy one." Hogg, however, easily 
found another publisher, and the Queen's Wake was 
soon as widely popular as its great merits deserved. 

The other refusal, unfortunately, did not end in the 
same happy manner. Robert Tannahill, a Scotch 
weaver, whose songs in their artless sweetness, their 
simplicity of diction, their tenderness of sentiment, 
have long since won distinction, came up to Edinburgh 
very poor in purse, but rich in the future that poetic 
aspirations imaged forth. He put his manuscripts 
into Constable's hands, offering the whole of them at 
a very small price. Day after day he waited for an 
answer, with a mind alternating between hope and 
fear. Constable, who always distrusted his own judg- 
ment in such matters, and who, perhaps, at the 
moment had no one else to consult, eventually returned 
the poems. Tannahill in a madness of despair put a 
period to his existence, adding one to those " young 
shadows " who hover round the shrine of genius, as if 
to warn all but the boldest from attempting to ap- 
proach it. 


The business of Constable's house was now so large 
and extensive that he thought it a hardship that so 
much of his wares should pass through the hands of 
English agents, who not only absorbed a large share 
of his profits, but who could not be expected to serve 
him with the same zeal as his own immediate followers. 
He and his Edinburgh partner, therefore, in 1808, 
joined with Charles Hunter and John Park in com- 
mencing a general bookselling establishment in 
London, under the designation of Constable, Hunter, 
Park, and Hunter. 

Shortly after this a breach that had been created 

between Scott and Constable widened until at last 

they parted. Scott always maintained that the 

quarrel was directly caused by the intemperate 

language of Hunter, Constable's original partner; but 

the severance was probably in reality due to the 

influence of a third person James Ballantyne and 

was, perhaps to a certain extent, influenced by a 

feeling of pique at Jeffrey's recent conduct. In 1808 

he took a part, perhaps as a suggester, certainly as a 

zealous promoter, in the establishment of the Quarterly 

Review, as a political and literary counterpoise to the 

Edinburgh Review. Already, in 1805, he had become 

a partner in the printing house of James Ballantyne 

and Company, though the fact remained for the public, 

and for all his friends but one, a profound secret. 

"The forming of this connection," says Lockhart, 

" was one of the most important steps in Scott's life. 

He continued bound by it during twenty years, and 

its influence on his literary exertions and his worldly 

fortunes was productive of much good and not a little 

evil. Its effects were in truth so mixed and balanced 

during the vicissitudes of a long and vigorous career, 



that I at this moment doubt whether it ought, on the 
whole, to be considered with more of satisfaction or 
regret." Scott's wish, openly expressed in his corres- 
pondence, of thwarting Constable in his attempts to 
obtain a monopoly of Scottish literature, resulted in 
the establishment of a new and rival bookselling firm, 
under the title of John Ballantyne and Co., to which 
he appears to have supplied the whole capital at any 
rate he subscribed his own half, with one-fourth, the 
portion of James Ballantyne, and not improbably also 
the other fourth for John Ballantyne. . 

John and James Ballantyne were the sons of a 
merchant at Kelso, and here it was they went to 
school with Walter Scott, and thus commenced 
an acquaintance so fraught with interest to all three. 
Early in life James Ballantyne, though not bred to 
the trade, nor " to the manner born," opened a printing 
house at Kelso and started the Kelso Mail news- 
paper, in which his brother John soon joined him. 
Having made some improvements in the art of print- 
ing, which rendered their provincial printing famous, 
they were persuaded to move to Edinburgh, and here 
they founded a press which, rivalling in its productions 
the works of a Baskerville or a Bensley, is at this 
present time as famous as ever. From their first 
start their old connection with Scott was serviceable, 
and in 1800 they printed his first important work, the 
Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, and from the time, 
1805, when he first became commercially interested in 
their business, they were firm friends and faithful 
allies. Scott, to his dying day, certainly reciprocated 
their kindly feelings, though Lockhart, his biographer, 
has since his death said very harsh things of the evil 
resulting from the connection. It is only fair to the 


Ballantynes to remember that both before and after 
the period of partnership with him, their house was 
eminently successful. In the meantime, Constable 
was busy publishing the works of Dugald Stewart, 
who at this time occupied the same place in meta- 
physics as Sir Walter did in poetry. ^^Philosophical 
Essays, published in 1810, excited great, and even 
popular, attention. He also became the proprietor of 
the Encyclopedia Britannica, for which he paid an 
enormous price, and to which he published an excellent 
supplement. We shall, however, treat more fully of 
the Encyclopedia in connection with Mr. Adam Black. 
We may here mention, as among Constable's other 
successful publications, Wood's excellent edition of 
Douglas's Scottish Peerage, and Chalmers' Caledonia. 

The London branch was found to be unattended 
with the expected advantages, and was given up in 
1811. In the early part of this same. year Hunter 
retired from the Edinburgh house, upon which 
Constable, acting upon the liberal view he always 
entertained as to the value of his stock, and being, 
perhaps, not unwilling to impress the world with an 
exalted idea of his property, allowed his partner a 
greater amount of actual cash (17,000 is understood 
to be the sum) than was really his due. Robert Cath- 
cart, of Drum, writer-to-the-signet, and Robert 
Cadell, then a clerk in his employ, were admitted as 
partners. Cathcart, however, dying the following 
year, Cadell remained Constable's sole partner. 

Constable had, of course, felt considerably hurt at 
Scott's desertion. Sometimes it is related he would 
pace up and down the room, as was his wont, raving 
grandiloquently of those who kick down the ladder by 
which they have risen, But now that Hunter had 


left the firm, and now that it was found that the new 
Quarterly did not in the least damage the value of 
the old one, a reconciliation could not but take place 
between men who had formerly been so friendly, and 
on the publication of the Lady of the Lake, Constable 
willingly gave the Ballantynes the value of his 
experience and trade knowledge, though he was not 
directly interested in the work. 

The new poem was published just before the season 
for excursions, and thousands rushed off at once to 
view the scenery of Loch Katrine ; and it is a well- 
ascertained fact that from the date of the appearance 
of this volume, assisted by subsequent of his publica- 
tions, the post-horse duty in Scotland rose in an 
extraordinary degree. 

Scott now found out that his move to the Ballan- 
tynes had not been attended with the success he 
expected. John Ballantyne proved but an irregular 
hand at book-keeping, and James was too much 
addicted to good cheer (or Lockhart sadly belies him) 
to be really serviceable as a business man. In vain 
did Scott write amusing letters of remonstrance ; the 
publisher's business was neglected, and the firm, as 
booksellers, fell into difficulties. Constable was ap- 
pealed to, and, finally, for 2000 consented to pur- 
chase most of the stock, and a complete business 
reconciliation was effected between him and Scott. 
The Ballantynes, however, still maintained their 
printing house, in which Scott was secretly the prin- 
cipal proprietor, and at which he insisted that all his 
own works should at all times, no matter who the 
publisher, be printed. 

About the year 1805 Scott had written a third part 
of a novel, which was advertised by John Ballantyne, 


under the title of Waverley, but he was unwilling to 
risk the loss of his poetical reputation by attempting 
a new style of composition. He, therefore, threw 
aside the work, and stumbling upon it in 1811, when 
his poetical reputation was beginning to wane, and 
soon after he had threatened, half in fun and half in 
earnest, " If I fail now I will write prose for life," he 
at once completed the story. The current rumour of 
the new novel having been rejected by several London 
publishers, is entirely untrue. The work was printed 
by the Ballantynes, and through the whole series the 
greatest secrecy as to the author's name was preserved. 
James Ballantyne himself transcribed the " copy," and 
copied Scott's corrections on to a duplicate proof 
sheet ; nor was there a single instance of treachery 
throughout the whole time of the secret. 

When the printed volumes of Waver ley were put 
into Constable's hands, he did not for a moment doubt 
its authorship, but at once offered 700 for the copy- 
right : this, we must remember, for a work to be pub- 
lished anonymously, at a time when Miss Edgeworth, 
the most popular novelist of her day, had never 
realized a like sum. The offer was, however, de- 
clined, and ultimately an arrangement was come to 
by which author and publisher were to share the 

Waverley took two or three months to win public 
favour, and then a perfect furore set in. Sloop-load 
after sloop-load was sent off to the London market, 
and on the rumoured loss of one of these vessels, half 
London was in despair. The interest, too, excited by 
public curiosity as to the author's name, was carefully 
fostered, and in a short time 12,000 copies were dis- 
posed of. 


Scott employed part of his literary gain in pur- 
chasing a property within three miles of Melrose, 
and gradually enlarged the dwelling-house until it 
became a castellated mansion of considerable size. 
The desire of becoming an extensive landed pro- 
prietor, became with him a far stronger passion than 
any craving for literary fame. It was more his desire, 
according to James Ballantyne himself, to "add as 
much as possible to the little realm of Abbotsford, in 
order that he might take his place, not among the great 
literary names which posterity is to revere, but among 
the country gentlemen of Roxburghshire." 

Under the influence of this infatuation, Scott pro- 
duced a series of novels, of which it will suffice to 
state the names and dates. 

To Waverlcy succeeded, in 1815, Guy Manncring ; 
in 1816, The Antiquary, and the first series of the 
Talcs of My Landlord, containing The Black Divarf 
and Old Mortality ; in 1 8 1 8, Rob Roy and the second 
series of the Tales of My Landlord, containing the 
Heart of Mid Lothian ; and, in 1819, the third series, 
containing the Bride of Lammermoor and a Legend of 
Montrose. Ivan/toe was to have been issued as a sepa- 
rate work, by another anonymous author, so as to 
spur the interest of a public that might possibly be 
flagging ; but the publication of a novel in London, 
pretending to be a fourth series of the Tales of My 
Landlord, determined him to produce it as the veri- 
table production of the author of Wavcrley. This was 
followed in quick succession by The Monastery and 
The Abbot, in 1820; Kenilworth and The Pirate, in 
1821 ; The Fortunes of Nigel and HallidanHill, a dra- 
matic poem, for the copyright of which Constable 
gave 1000, in 1822; Peveril of the Peak, Qnentin 


Dnrward, and St. Ronaris Well, in 1823 ; Red Gaunt- 
let, in 1824; and Woodstock, in 1825. 

The vast amount of business arising from these 
publications, produced in Constable's mind a convic- 
tion that he was a wealthy and prosperous man. 
Though never possessed of much free capital, he saw 
around him every day such proofs of an enlarging 
amount of stock, that nothing less than the demon- 
stration of figures a demonstration he cordially 
hated could have given him greater assurance of his 
affluent condition. Like Scott, he, too, was intoxi- 
cated with success. He had a magnificent way of 
transacting all business, and living rather like a 
princely father of letters, than a tradesman aiming at 
making them subservient to his use, he was led into 
an expenditure beyond his means. 

Another error lay in his yielding to Scott's desire 
for money, and the means of raising money by pre- 
payment for literary work yet to be accomplished. 
Of Scott's profits on his works, Lockhart makes the 
following statements : " Before Sir Walter went to 
London, in November, 1821, he concluded another 
negotiation of importance with the house of Constable 
and Co. They agreed to give, for the remaining copy- 
right of the four novels published between December, 
1819, and January, 1821 to wit Ivanhoe, The Monas- 
tery, The A bbot, and Kenilworth the sum of five thou- 
sand guineas. The stipulation about not revealing the 
author's name under a penalty of ,2000, was repeated. 
By these four novels, the fruits of scarcely more than 
a twelve months' labour, he had already cleared at 
least 10,000 before this bargain was completed. . . . 
I cannot pretend to guess what the actual state of 
Scott's pecuniary affairs was at the time when John 


Ballantyne's death relieved them from one great 
source of complication and difficulty. . . . He must 
(in his improvements at Abbotsford) have reckoned on 
clearing ^30,000, at least, in the course of two years, by 
the novels written within the period, and the pub- 
lishers, as we have seen, were willing to give him 
;6ooo, within the space of two years, for works of a 
less serious sort, likely to be despatched at leisure 
hours, without at all interfering with the "main manu- 
facture. But, alas ! even this was not all. . . . Before 
The Fortunes of Nigel issued from the press, Scott had 
exchanged instruments, and received his bookseller's 
bills for no less than " four works of fiction," not one 
of them otherwise described in the deeds of agree- 
ment. And within two years all this anticipation 
had been wiped off by Peveril of the Peak, Quentin 
Durward, St. Ron an' s Well, and Red Gauntlet ; and 
the new castle was at that time complete, and over- 
flowing with all its splendour ; but by that time the 
end was also approaching !" 

To return for a moment to Constable's life as apart 
from the author of Waverley ; he had, as we have 
seen, entertained in early years strong literary aspira- 
tions, and he repeatedly expressed a touching regret 
at the nonfulfilment of his hopes. The only literary 
efforts that have been distinctly traced to his pen 
consist of an edition of Lamonfs Diary, in 1810; a 
compilation of the poetry contained in the Waverley 
Novels, and the composition of a small volume which 
appeared in 1822, under the title of Memoirs of George 
Heriot, jeweller to King James, containing an account 
of the hospital founded by him at Edinburgh. In 
1816 he lost his wife, and in 1818 he married Miss 
Charlotte Neale, who survived him. In the early 


part of 1822 his health suffered so severely that he 
was obliged to sojourn in the south for a while. In 
1823, though professedly a Whig in politics, he was 
included by the liberal policy of the Government in a 
list of new magistrates for the city of Edinburgh ; 
and in the same year he moved from the warehouse, 
which he had occupied for twenty years in the High 
Street, to an elegant mansion in the New Town, 
adjacent to the Register House, which had become 
his own through his second wife. 

Constable had at this time all the personal and 
outward appearance of a successful man. He was 
stout and portly in body, and rather defiant and 
imperious in his manner. Among the trade he was 
known as the " Czar of Muscovy ;" of the London 
potentates, John Murray had earned the sobriqiiet of 
the " Emperor of the West," arid Longman and his 
string of partners as the " Divan." Constable had 
christened John Ballantyne the " Dey of Algiers," but, 
as John complained, had subsequently deposed him. 
The " Czar," however, was too fond of these nick- 
names. Longman was one day dining with him : 
" What fine swans you have on your pond there," quoth 
the Londoner. " Swans," cried Constable, " they are 
only geese, man ! There are just five of them, if 
you please to observe, and their names are Longman, 
Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown." This skit cost "the 
Crafty" a good bargain. 

About the year 1825, Constable devised a scheme 
greater than any he had yet floated, and the adoption 
of which was eventually destined to effect an entire 
revolution in the bookselling trade. After long study 
of the annual schedule of tax-payers, he established 
his premises clearly enough. There was undoubtedly 


an immense majority of respectable British families 
who never thought of buying a book. " Look," he 
cried to Scott, " at the small class of people who pay 
the powder tax, what a trifle it is to each, and yet 
what a fortune it would bring to a bookseller ! If I 
live for half-a-dozen years," he continued, "I shall 
make it as impossible that there should not be a good 
library in every decent house in Great Britain, as that 
the shepherd's ingle nook should want the ' saut 

" Troth," said Scott, " if you live you are indeed 
likely to be 

' The great Napoleon of the realms of print! " 

" If you outlive me," retorted Constable, " I bespeak 
that line for my tombstone ... At three shillings or 
half-a-crown a volume every month, which must and 
shall sell, not by thousands, and tens of thousands, but 
by hundreds of thousands, and, ay, by millions ! 
Twelve volumes in the year, a halfpenny of profit on 
every copy of which will make me richer than all the 
copyrights of all the quartos that ever were, or ever 
will be, hot-pressed ! Twelve volumes so good that 
millions must wish to possess them, and so cheap that 
every butcher callant may have them if he pleases to 
let me tax him sixpence a week !" 

Scott saw the feasibility of the scheme, and it was 
decided to start at once with a life of the " other 
Napoleon," and a portion of one of the " Waverley 

But, alas ! before the plan could be carried into 
execution, the crisis came. Lockhart received a 
letter from London stating that Constable's London 
banker had thrown up his book, and he galloped over 


at once to Sir Walter's, who smiled, re- lit his cigar, 
took the news coolly, and declined to believe it, and 
for the moment he was right. 

Lockhart's account of the terrible failure in which 
Scott was involved is this : Whenever Constable 
signed a bill for the purpose of raising money among 
the bankers, for fear of accident, or any neglect in 
taking the bill up before it fell due, he deposited a 
counter-bill, signed by Ballantyne, on which, if need 
were, Constable might raise a sum of money equiva- 
lent to that for which he had pledged his word ; but 
these counter-bills were allowed to lie in Constable's 
desk till they assumed the size of a "sheaf of stamps ;" 
and when the hour of distress came, Constable rushed 
with these bills to the money-changers, and thus the Bal- 
lantynes who were liable to Constable for, say 25,000, 
were legally liable for 50,000. Constable, in his turn, 
carried on the same game with the London house of 
Hurst, Robinson, and Co., his agents and upon a 
much larger scale. They neglected their own business 
of bookselling and entered heavily into speculation in 
hops, and in the panic of the close of 1825, availed 
themselves of Constable's credit, and he of the Ballan- 
tynes, and the loss descended upon their principal 
partner, Scott. 

This account has been contradicted by the repre- 
sentatives of John Ballantyne, in two pamphlets, re- 
futing Lockhart's history of the affair, and proving 
their side of the question by reference to the old ac- 
count books ; Cadell, Constable's quondam partner, 
and certainly not biassed in his favour, throws his vote 
in with the Ballantynes. The responsibilities they 
undertook were solely at the bidding of Scott, and for 
his benefit ; and in proof of this, they quote a clause 


from the last deed of partnership, dated 1st April, 

" The said Sir Walter Scott shall remain liable for 
such bills and debts as there shall be due and current." 

When the persons most interested differ vitally, it is 
hard to decide ; however, the result of it all \vas, that 
when Hurst, Robinson, and Co. stopped payment in 
London, Constable failed for upwards of a quarter of a 
million, and the Ballantynes were also bankrupt to the 
extent of 88,607 1 9 S - 9^- It was in the middle of 
January, 1826, that the actual crash came. Splendid 
and magnificent to the very last, Constable rushed off 
to town as fast as post-horses could carry him. He 
drove straight to Lockhart's house, " and asked me," 
says that gentleman, " to accompany him as soon as 
he could get into his carriage to the Bank of England, 
and support him (as a confidential friend of the author 
of the ' Waverley Novels ') in his application for a loan 
of 100,000 to 200,000 on the security of the copy- 
rights in his possession " a proposal that would have 
rather startled the old lady of Threadneedle-street, 
who was, at that time of unparalleled panic, accord- 
ing to Mr. Huskisson's subsequent confession in the 
House, on the very verge of suspending payment her- 
self. When Lockhart refused and, of course, with- 
out direct instructions from Sir Walter, he could not 
hazard such a step Constable became livid with rage, 
stamped on the ground, and swore that he could and 
would go alone. 

How Scott bore the blow, and, what he dreaded in- 
finitely more than the mere loss of money the expo- 
sure it entailed of his connection with the printing 
house, we all know ; how he declined to accept any 
compromise ; how he sold off his Abbotsford estate, 


which he had devoted all the efforts of his genius to 
acquire, and which he loved so well ; how he slaved 
and toiled until the incredible sum was repaid but, 
alas ! at the expense of a life more precious than all 
the lucre of creditors; and how his last words on his 
death-bed were his best epitaph: " My dear, be a 
good man, be virtuous, be religious be a good man ! 
Nothing else will give you any comfort when you come 
to lie here." 

Our matter, however, is with Constable. He saw 
his fortunes the strong up-buildings of a gloriously 
successful life-time dashed to the ground at one blow. 
With a young family growing up around him, sick in 
body and weary in soul, he too had to begin life afresh. 
All his " sunshine " friends fell off, Scott was alienated, 
and his stock, which he had been wont to contemplate 
as a mine of wealth, was sequestered, and sold for a 
tithe of its value.* Cadell, his late partner, purchased 
the copyrights of the "Waverley Novels" for 8,500, 
and, securing Scott's countenance, set up as a fortu- 
nate rival. 

Constable, however, went manfully to work at his 
proposed Miscellany. Captain Basil Hall, in kindly 
consideration, made him a present of his Voyages, and 
this was brought out in 1827, for the small sum of one 
shilling, and proved fairly successful. This same year, 
by-the-by, was commenced the Library of Useful 

* Among the sufferers by this failure was the family of Robert Watt, 
M.D., author of "Bibliotheca Britannica," for which ,2000 had been 
given in bills, all of which were dishonoured. He was a ploughboy 
until his seventeenth year, wrote many medical treatises, and occupied 
his concluding years with a work precious and indispensable to every 
student. The whole plan of the "Bibliotheca" is new, and few com- 
pilations of similar magnitude and variety ever presented, in a first edi- 
tion, a more complete design and execution. 


Knowledge, by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful 
Knowledge, who, following Constable, had the "honour 
of leading the way in that fearful inroad upon dear- 
ness of the good old times of publishing, which first de- 
veloped itself in the wicked birth of what the literary 
exclusives called the Sixpenny Sciences' 1 

Constable's prospects were brightening ; he had now 
gathered round him all the younger literary men of 
the day, when, in the midst of his struggles, his old 
disease of dropsy again attacked him, and he died on 
the 2 ist July, 1827. 

His widow and family were left in sorry circum- 
stances, but his son Thomas eventually attained the 
position of an eminent and well-known printer in 
Edinburgh. The Ballantynes, with whom he had 
been so intimately connected, disproved many of 
Lockhart's assertions, by showing that, by dint of 
hard work and good business habits, they were capable 
of success, unaided by the help of Sir Walter Scott. 

Constable, if not the most successful, was certainly 
the most eminent of the Scotch publishers. It is 
pleasant where the two lives have been so curiously 
blended to be able to quote Scott's estimate of his 
character : 

" His vigorous intellect and vigorous ideas have not 
only rendered his native country the merit of her own 
literature, but established there a court of letters which 
commanded respect even from those most inclined to 
dissent from many of its canons. The effect of these 
changes operated, in a great measure, by the strong 
sense and sagacious calculation of an individual who 
knew how to avail himself, to an unhoped-for extent, 
of the various kinds of talents which his country pro- 


duced, will probably appear much clearer to the gene- 
ration which shall follow the present." 

The remaining portion of this chapter will in itself 
bear ample testimony to the truth of this prediction ; 
for we shall have to touch upon two distinct lives, and 
two long and very successful lives, to trace the pro- 
gress of the chief works which passed out of Con- 
stable's hands so shortly before his death. 

Robert Cadell had been admitted a partner in the 
house upon his marriage with Constable's daughter, 
but she died childless long before the failure, and 
Cadell was soon married again to a Miss Mylne, 
Thus the family ties were severed, and, when the 
crash came, Cadell felt no hesitation in entering the 
field as a rival to his late partner. 

The stock of the Waverley Novels was sold off, far 
below the market value, and the London publishers, 
judging from this that the intrinsic worth of the copy- 
right had irretrievably declined, allowed Cadell, as we 
have seen, in conjunction with Scott, to become the 
purchaser at the low price of 8500. The success of 
the republication was astounding, and showed what 
real life and vivacity was still left in the copyright. 
By this scheme the whole of the novels were reprinted 
in five-shilling volumes with excellent illustrations, 
giving for ten shillings in two volumes what had been 
originally published in three at a guinea and a half. 

After Scott's death the debt still amounted to 
,54,000 ; his life was insured for 22,000, there was 
2000 in hand, and now Cadell most handsomely ad- 
vanced 30,000 in order that the remaining debt might 
be liquidated, taking as his only security the right to 
the profit that might accrue from the copyright pro- 
perty, The family, dreading that the term of copy- 



right might expire before the sum could be returned, 
endeavoured to obtain a special additional term, and 
On more than one occasion Serjeant Talfourd intro- 
duced a bill into the House of Commons to this 
effect, but without success. Fortunately, however, the 
event showed that Cadell was commercially fully jus- 
tified in his generosity, for before his death not only 
had he been reimbursed his ^"30,000, but a handsome 
profit had been earned " for the benefit of all whom it 
might concern." 

According to Mr. James Mylne, one of Cadell's 
executors, the following is the total sale of Scott's 
works from the time they came into Cadell's hands 
until his death : 


Waverley Novels ... ... 78,2705613 

Poetical Works ... ..; 41,340 ,, 

Prose Works ... ... 8,260 ,, 

Life by Lockhart ... .. 26,060,, 

Tales of a Grandfather ) 
(as a separate taork) { 

Selections ... ... ... 7>55 

and, as a test of the popularity of the Peoples Edition 
of the writings^and Life, he states that the following 
numbers originally printed in weekly sheets were 
issued : 

Novels ... ... ... ... 7>H5, I 97 

Poetry ... ... ... 674,955 

Prose ... ... ... ... 269,406 

Life ... ... ... 459,291 

Total Sheets 8,518,849 

Robert Cadell died on January 21 st, 1849, after a 
long career rendered prosperous by this splendid pro- 
perty, and on March 26th, 1851, the novels, poems, 
prose works, and the " Life" by Lockhart were put up to 


auction at the London Coffee House by Mr. Hodgson. 
The sale brought together the largest " trade" gather- 
ing that has ever been witnessed ; there were pub- 
lishers from the "Row" and Albemarle Street, book- 
sellers from Ave Maria and Ivy Lanes, and specula- 
tors from every corner of the kingdom. The stock 
had been valued at 10, 193 3^., a very low figure, 
and it was announced that this would be sold only 
with the copyrights, and that the trustees retained 
the right of bidding. After much disputing as to 
these restrictions 5000 was offered, and quickly rose 
by leaps of 500 to ,10,500, when Mr. Bohn and 
the " Row" retired, and the struggle lay between Mr. 
Virtue and some imaginary bidder, visible only to the 
eyes of the auctioneer. At ,13,500 the copyright 
was "bought in" making the price, including the 
stock, 23,693 3^. 

This afforded a wonderful contrast to the former 
sale at 8500, more especially when we consider that 
the copyright of the earlier novels had only five or six 
years more to run. 

In a few weeks after this it was announced in the 
Scotsman that the whole of the copyrights were trans- 
ferred to the hands of another eminent publishing 
firm in Edinburgh Messrs. A. and C. Black, who, in 
conjunction with their friends, Messrs. Richardson 
Brothers, became the possessors at the price of 

Leaving the Waverley Novels for a time, it will be 
necessary to bring up the narrative of the career of 
Mr. Adam Black to the period when he was able to 
become the owner of the most valuable literary pro- 
perty that has ever existed. 

Adam Black, the son of Charles Black, a builder of 



Edinburgh, was born in that town in the year 1784, 
and was educated primarily at the High School, on 
his entrance as a pupil at which, tradition says, he 
was accompanied by his father, who, having just left 
his employment for the purpose, appeared in full 
working garb, the mason's white leathern apron in- 
cluded. At the University his talents speedily pro- 
cured him admittance into that clique of young 
Liberals who were afterwards to effect such a change 
in Edinburgh, indeed in cosmopolitan politics. After 
serving his apprenticeship to the book trade, in part- 
nership with his nephew, the bookselling business of 
Adam and Charles Black was founded. In 1817 he 
married Isabella, only daughter of James Tait, archi- 
tect (sister of William Tait, the well-known originator 
of Taits Magazine), and at the time of Constable's 
failure was in a steady and prosperous way of busi- 
ness. This disaster was the means of making many 
fortunes, and in 1826 the Edinburgh Review appeared 
under the joint proprietorship of Thomas Norton 
Longman and Adam and Charles Black. As we 
have followed the career of the Review in our history 
of the Longman family, it will be unnecessary to 
enter fully into the changes of management and the 
success of later numbers. 

Another work, however, afterwards thrown on the 
market, which also became the property of Messrs. 
A. and C. Black, is of such literary importance that 
we must again for a moment retrace our steps, in order 
to keep up the proper sequence of our narrative. 

The idea of a compilation that should embrace all 
human knowledge is of very great antiquity. Pliny, 
in fact claims the name of " Enyclopaedia " for his 
Natural History ; but it was not till the sixteenth 


century that any attempt was made at arranging the 
matter in a systematic manner, though the Arabians 
are said to have had a true Encyclopedia centuries 
before that date. It was long, however, before the 
idea occurred of employing the lexographic plan as a 
basis of a universal repertoire of learning, and the first 
great step in advance was the Lexicon Technician of 
Dr. Harris, completed and published at London in the 
year 1710. The Cydopcedia of Ephraim Chambers, 
with which we have previously dealt, appeared in 
1728, and for a long time was the supreme authority ; 
through its success at home and abroad a new impulse 
was given to the desire for such publications. In 
France the Encyclopedic was projected by the Abbe 
de Gua, and was based originally on an unpublished 
translation of Chambers's Cyclopaedia, made by an 
Englishman named Mills, In consequence of a 
quarrel with the publishers, De Gua threw it up, and 
it was then transferred to Diderot and D'Alembert ; 
to become the text-book of the French philosophers. 
The publication of the seventeen volumes extended 
from 1751 to 1765, and six years after the latter date 
appeared the first volume of the Encyclopedia Britan- 

The plan and all the principal articles of this now 
important work were in this first edition devised and 
written by William Smellie. 

Smellie began life as a compositor, and he used to 
lay down his composing-stick for an hour or two 
daily to attend the classes of the Edinburgh Uni- 
versity. At the age of nineteen he was engaged by 
Murray and Cochrane as corrector of their press in 
general and conductor and compiler of the 'Scots 
Magazine at a salary of sixteen shillings a week. If 


the saying that " Edinburgh never had a Grub Street ' 
is true, it must have arisen rather from the persever- 
ance of the writers than from the uniform generosity 
of the publishers. 

The agreement upon which the Encyclopedia was 
undertaken was still in existence when Kerr wrote 
Smellie's Life ; as a literary curiosity we quote it : 

" Mr. Andrew Bell to Mr. William Smellie. 
" SIR, As we are engaged in publishing a ' Diction- 
ary of the Arts and Sciences,' and as you have informed 
us that there are fifteen capital sciences, which you 
will undertake for, and write up the sub-divisions and 
detached parts of them, conforming to your plan, and 
likewise to prepare the whole work for the press, &c., 
&c. We hereby agree to allow you 200 for your 

The first proprietors were Andrew Bell, engraver, 
and Colin Macfarquhar, printer. The publication 
was commenced in weekly numbers in 1771, and 
completed in 1773, by which time the bulk in all con- 
sisted only of three small quarto volumes. A second 
edition was called for in 1776, and Smellie was offered 
a share in the property, but he declined to have any- 
thing more to do with it, as upon the recommendation 
of " a very distinguished nobleman " it was resolved 
to introduce a complete system of biography. The 
proprietors engaged, instead, James Tytler, a laborious 
miscellaneous writer, and a man of extraordinary 
knowledge. A large proportion of the additional 
matter, by which the work was extended from three 
to ten volumes, was due to his pen, but the payment 
for this labour is said to have been very small, and 
the unfortunate author was not able to support his 


family in a style superior to that of a common labourer. 
At one time, during the progress of the work, he lived 
at the village of Duddingston, in the house of a washer^ 
woman, whose tub inverted formed the only desk at 
his disposal, and one of his children was frequently 
despatched with a parcel of " copy " upon which their 
next meal depended. 

This second edition consisted of 1500 copies, and 
extended to ten volumes quarto. The third edition, 
to which Tytler also contributed, was commenced in 
1789. Till then it had been considered in the south 
as " a Scots rival of little repute " (to Chambers's 
Cyclopcedia), but in this edition, beside the method 
and comprehensiveness of the plan, it rose greatly 
above its former level in its practical and speculative 
departments. It was completed in 1797, in eighteen 
volumes, to which Professor Robison supplied two 
supplementary volumes to complete the series he had 
commenced when the principal work was far ad- 
vanced. The sale of this edition extended to ten 
thousand copies, and the proprietors are said to have 
netted 42,000 of clear profit, besides being paid for 
their respective work the one as printer, the other as 
engraver. Much of this, of course, was due to poor 
Tytler's labours, who was still living in the utmost 
penury. He was, however, perfectly regardless about 
poverty, having no desire to conceal it from the 
world. He would finish his frugal meal of a cold 
potato before the eyes of a stranger with as much 
nonchalance as if it had been a sumptuous repast. 
He had that contentment with poverty which is so 
apt to make it permanent, and this, in addition to his 
imprudent and intemperate habits, cut off all chance 
of a higher social position. As a proof of his extra* 


ordinary stock of general knowledge, his biographer 
relates a characteristic anecdote. 

" A gentleman in this city of Edinburgh once told 
me he wanted as much matter as would form a 
junction between a certain history and its continuation 
to a later period. He found Tytler lodged in one of 
those elevated apartments called garrets, and was in- 
formed by the old woman with whom he resided, that 
he could not see him, as he had gone to bed rather 
the worse for liquor. Determined, however, not to 
depart without his errand, he was shown into Mr. 
Tytler's apartment by the light of a lamp, where he 
found him in the situation described by the landlady. 
The gentleman having acquainted him with the nature 
of the business which brought him at so late an hour, 
Mr. Tytler called for pen and ink, and in a short time 
produced about a page and a half of letterpress, 
which answered the end as completely as if it had 
been the result of the most mature deliberation, pre- 
vious notice, and a mind undisturbed by any liquid 
capable of deranging its ideas." 

On the death of Macfarquhar the whole work be- 
came the property of Andrew Bell. 

The fourth edition, augmented to twenty volumes, 
was completed in 1810, under the able superinten- 
dence of Dr. James Millar ; but the editor was pre- 
vented from availing himself of Professor Robison's 
excellent supplementary articles by a temporary 
separation of that property from that of the principal 
work. This issue consisted of three thousand five 
hundred copies. 

With the completion of this edition the progress of 
improvement was for a time suspended ; but in 1814 
the copyright of the work was purchased by Archibald 


Constable, who, with the enterprise that always dis- 
tinguished him, at once projected a supplement, which 
extended to six volumes. It was placed under the 
skilful management of Professor Macney Napier, and 
the publication lasted from 1815 to 1824. Many very 
distinguished authors were engaged as contributors, 
among whom we may specially mention Arago, Biot, 
and Dugald Stewart ; and all the resources of the pro- 
prietors were devoted to this favourite undertaking. 

In 1829 the whole of the copyrights (including that 
of Professor Robison's supplementary articles) passed 
into the hands of Messrs. A. and C. Black, assisted by 
their friends ; and we are now able to resume our nar- 
rative at the point we left it. 

The property was at first a joint stock concern, 
resembling the original proprietorship, and was, we 
believe, owned in equal shares by Mr. Abraham 
Thomson, as the binder ; Mr. Thomas Allan, as the 
printer ; and Messrs. A. and C. Black, as publishers. 
Mr. Thomson died shortly afterwards, and the Messrs. 
Black became the possessors of his interest in the work. 
Some years afterwards, the share held by Mr. Allan, 
who was a banker in Edinburgh, and also printer and 
proprietor of the Caledonian Mercury, also fell into the 
hands of the Messrs. Black. At this time the new 
edition was in midway progress, and the enormous 
expense necessary to complete the work rendered the 
venture single-handed something more than hazardous. 
But the ability, tact, immense energy, and unceasing 
labour of Mr. Adam Black, then in the prime of life, 
proved equal to the task he had undertaken, and in 
this case it may truly be said that for years he went 
on literally scattering bread upon the waters, and most 
deservedly did he obtain his reward. Previously, we 


believe, to the completion of this edition, Mr. Charles 
Black, who had long been in delicate health, died. 

Upon Jeffrey's retirement in 1829, Macney Napier, 
Professor of Conveyancing in the University of Edin- 
burgh, was promoted to the editorship of the Edin- 
burgh Review, and Mr. Black also secured his services 
for the management of the seventh edition of the 
Encylcopcedia. Napier was assisted by James Brown, 
LL.D., as sub-editor, and on his shoulders most of the 
hard work fell. Brown, who was trained as an advo- 
cate at the Scottish bar, relinquished this for literature. 
His thorough scholarship enabled him to undertake 
almost any department of literary work, and rendered 
him invaluable for the revisal of such a work as the 
Encyclopedia. He was also a ready and slashing 
political writer, at a time when political feeling was 
rampant. Remarkable alike for his mental activity 
and his personal irascibility, the one great difficulty 
lay in managing the Doctor. As an instance of this, 
the article " Alphabet " was entrusted to Brown for the 
new edition of the Encyclopedia. He was at the same 
time editor of the Caledonian Mercury, and on the 
appearance of something in that paper which led to a 
quarrel with Mr. Allan, the proprietor, who was also 
a shareholder in the Encyclopedia, Brown declined to 
go on with " Alphabet." The part in which this was 
to appear was due, and Brown was inflexible. The 
subject was a difficult one, peculiarly suited to Brown's 
abilities, and it was not easy elsewhere to find so com- 
petent a writer. In these circumstances, Mr. Black 
adopted the experiment of passing over that part and 
bringing out the succeeding one. Thus circumvented, 
Brown came to terms, and things again went on 
smoothly. But, notwithstanding his proverbial kind- 


liness of disposition, he was hasty in coming to con- 
clusions, and was always getting into scrapes of one 
kind or another ; and a duel, in which he and Charles 
Maclaren, editor of the Scotsman, figured as principals, 
furnished the Edinburgh gamins with a popular street 
song. He escaped all duellistic dangers, however, but 
his unremitting labours brought on a stroke of 
apoplexy, of which he died in 1841. 

The great feature of the new edition was the pre- 
liminary " Dissertations/' which were commenced by 
Professors Stewart and Playfair, who were both 
carried off in the midst of their labours. Sir James 
Mackintosh, who undertook to complete his friend's 
" History of Ethical and Political Philosophy " (the 
Metaphysical portion had been completed by Stewart) 
was also summoned from his labours before the 
Political division was commenced ; and the " History 
of the Physical Sciences" was brought down by Pro- 
fessor Leslie to the commencement of this century. 

" The ' Dissertations' produced by these four extra- 
ordinary men are still regarded with peculiar pride in 
Scotland ; indeed, few nations can boast of such an 
intellectual group living at the same time, and adorn- 
ing the same society ; and yet, with powers of mind 
not far from equality, how various were their gifts, and 
how diversified their genius !"* 

The seventh edition was commenced in monthly 
parts in March, 1830, and finished in January, 1842. 
Of its success it is almost unnecessary to speak ; with 
confidence reposed in the proprietors sufficient to com- 
mand the services of such writers as Young, Malthus, 
Macculloch, Mill, Roget, Wilson, Empson, De 

* Quarterly Rei'iew, vol, Ixx. 


Quincey, and Tytler, while the editor can count on 
the aid of friends like Scott, Playfair, Stewart, Leslie, 
Lord Jeffrey, Sir William Hamilton, and Sir John 
Barrow, it is not difficult to anticipate the result. The 
mere cost of presentation copies amounted to ,416 
i6s., and the amount of duty on the paper employed 
exceeded ^6000 ; while, to go into heavier matters, 
the total expense of the twenty-one quarto volumes 
was, in a trial in the Jury Court of Scotland, proved 
to have been no less a sum than 12 5,667 9^. ^d- 
This amount, of course, includes every item of expen- 
diture, among which the following are the most im- 
portant : 

s. d. 

Contributions and Editing . 22, 590 2 1 1 

Printing 18,610 I 4 

Stereotyping . . . . 3,317 5 8 

Paper 27,854 15 7 

Bookbinding .... 12,739 12 2 

Engraving and Plate-printing . n,777 J 8 I 

The literary contributions to the first volume of 
" Dissertations " alone cost upwards of 3450. 

The work was eminently successful, and this im- 
mense expenditure shows us something of what 
" success " means in this instance. The commercial 
management of an undertaking like this was sufficient 
to occupy the attention of a man of extraordinary 
diligence ; but Mr. Black found time, not only to 
contribute several articles to his Encyclopedia, but to 
take a very warm and prominent interest in the 
government of his native city ; and from 1843 to 1848 
he occupied the highest position to which a citizen of 
Edinburgh can aspire that of Lord Provost. 

Enterprise and success, more especially when they 


are mingled with real desert, and caused by honest 
service, are qualities of which the Scotch, perhaps 
more than any other nation, are peculiarly proud ; 
and when the representation of Edinburgh became 
vacant in 1856, a large and influential party at 
oncejiominated Mr. Adam Black to fill the post. Mr. 
Adam Black was a thorough-going Liberal and a 
Nonconformist, and a party of the electors received 
his nomination in a spirit of the greatest bitterness, 
and an opposition candidate was brought forward. 
The election came off on the 8th February, 1856, and 
Mr. Black, the friend of political freedom when friends 
were few, the champion of religious charity and good- 
will when enemies were many, was rewarded for his 
consistency and his many services by a larger number 
of votes than had been polled for twenty years no 
weak test of popular approbation. As a contempo- 
rary opinion, we may quote the Scotsman of that 
date : " Honour to the candidate ! Sincerely re- 
luctant to compete for the honour, no sooner was he 
embarked, and saw that the great principles and the 
reputation of the city were concerned and imperilled 
in his person, than he threw himself into the work 
with a vigour that made even the youngest and most 
energetic of his supporters stand aside. We don't 
care who knows it : Mr. Black was the most effective 
member of his own committee in word and in act, 
by day and by night, the veteran was ready with 
guidance and warning and incentive. In all his many 
battles in the public cause, he never made a better 
fight than when achieving this victory which so 
gloriously crowns his career." 

In the House Mr. Black distinguished himself by 
his assiduity to business, and in 1864 he introduced 


his Copyright Bill, which, though it contained much 
that was good, was ultimately thrown out. 

Upon completion of the seventh edition, a number 
of cheap reprints were issued of the most famous 
articles of the " Encyclopaedia," and met with a very 
favourable reception. 

We have seen that in 1851 the Messrs. Black, in 
conjunction with Messrs. Richardson Brothers, became 
possessed of the Waverley Novels. Ultimately, the 
Messrs. Black purchased, it is said, the Messrs. Richard- 
sons' share, and are now believed to be the sole proprie* 
tors of Sir Walter Scott's works. In the management of 
this property Mr. Adam Black exhibited the same rare 
sagacity, and reaped the same successful reward as in 
the former important work. In the middle of 1852, 
he 'announced that 120,000 complete sets of the 
Waverley Novels had been sold in this country alone 
since their first publication ; and in 1858 an ingenious 
mathematician computed that the weight of the paper 
used for them was upwards of 3500 tons. 

Among the most important editions issued by 
Messrs. Black we may instance the following : 

s. d. 

A Re-issue of the " Cabinet Edition " 1111853-54 at 3 15 o 

1860 3 10 o 

The "People's Edition" in 5 vols. ,,1855 2 20 

" Railway Edition " in 25 vols. ,,1858-601 I 17 6 
New Illustrated Edition in 48 vols. founded on 

Author's Favourite" ,, 1859-61 10 13 O 

" Shilling Edition " in 25 vols. ,,1862-63 150 

At our present writing a beautiful new edition, the 
" Centenary," is being published. 

The moment that the copyrights of the earlier 
novels expired the market was flooded with cheap 


reprints ; but the Messrs. Black were equal to the 
occasion. They issued a trade reminder to the 
public that the edition of 1829 was thoroughly revised 
by the author, was altered in almost every page and 
largely augmented by notes, and that it still was 
copyright, and as a death-blow to the reprints by 
rival houses they brought out the " sixpenny edition " 
in monthly volumes, each volume containing a com- 
plete tale with all the matter that had appeared in 
the more expensive editions. Thanks to former 
stereotypes they were thus enabled to present a series 
of the cheapest and most valuable books that any 
house in the country has yet been able to produce, 
The publication lasted from November, 1866, to 
November, 1868, and the complete issue consisted of 
twenty-five volumes, and thus the public were able 
to purchase for twelve shillings and sixpence what 
had originally cost upwards of forty pounds. Con- 
stable himself in his wildest dreams of cheap 
publishing never imagined such a marvellous feature 
as this. 

As a proof of their popularity we quote from a 
contemporary writer in the Illustrated Times, 25th of 
September, 1867. The writer was travelling down to 
Wales, and, at the London station, he said, " ' Boy, 
where are the Scott novels ?' ' Don't keep them,' he 
replied. ' Don't keep them ! Why not ?' ' Because, 
if we did, we should not sell anything else.' Here 
then, to begin with, is a small fact worth reflection. 
Some of the novels were first published fifty years 
ago. Can you point out any other series of books, or 
even any single book, a sixpenny edition of which 
Mr. Smith would be afraid to lay upon his book- 
stalls for fear the public might refuse to buy anything 


else ?" At every station the writer made the same 
inquiry and met with the same result. 

As through the business talents of the publishers, 
the printed works of Sir Walter Scott were reduced 
in price, so through the fame of the author did the auto- 
graph remains rise to a very wonderful fictitious value. 
Mr. Cadell made a remarakable collection of all the 
manuscripts he could purchase, and on the 9th of 
July, 1868, his collection was sold for 1073 ; while 
even a corrected proof of "Peveril of the Peak " realized 

The seventh edition of the " Encyclopaedia Britan- 
nica" was finished, as we have previously stated, in 1842, 
and met with, not only an immediate, but also a con- 
tinuous sale, but human knowledge refuses to be 
stereotyped, and at the close of 1852 the eighth edition 
was commenced, occupying nine years in the publica- 
tion. The proprietors justly claim for it the proud 
title of "the largest literary enterprise ever under- 
taken by any single house in Great Britain." The 
editorial charge was entrusted to Dr. Thomas Stewart 
Trail, professor of medical jurisprudence in the 
University of Edinburgh ; and, among the more im- 
portant new contributors, we may mention Arch- 
bishop Whately, Professor Blackie, and Dr. Forbes, 
the latter of whom contributed a new " Dissertation " 
to the introductory volume. Lord Macaulay con- 
tributed five of the leading biographies " as a token 
of friendship to the senior proprietor." " Any article 
of any value in any preceding edition," says the 
editor, " has been reprinted in this in all cases with 
corrections, and frequently with considerable additions. 
Besides these, it has received so great an accession of 
original contributions, that nine-tenths of its contents 


may be said to be absolutely new," and this will pro- 
bably apply with the same force to the ninth edition, 
which is to be commenced next year. 

Long before this date Mr. Adam Black was assisted 
in his business by his sons. He retired from the 
house in 1865, and now laden with honours in public, 
and successes in business, life, he may fairly claim to be 
the Nestor of publishers. He must have seen many 
changes in the literary world, and marked many 
vicissitudes in the " realms of print ;" but the changes 
as far as they operated for him were for the better, 
and vicissitudes seem invariably to have kept outside 
his charmed circle. 

In the year 1861, a very valuable work the " Col- 
lected Writings of the late Thomas de Quincey " came 
into the hands of Messrs. Black ; but, as the public 
are almost entirely indebted to the laborious care and 
patient perseverance of another publisher, Mr. James 
Hogg, then of Edinburgh, for the production of this 
collection, which then consisted of fourteen volumes, 
we have thought it better that this account should 
form a kind of supplement to our present chapter. 

For a period of about forty years De Quincey had 
been an extensive contributor to periodical literature, 
and it is scarcely surprising that, during such a length 
of time, the sources even where many of his contribu- 
tions originally appeared had been forgotten, and that 
the very existence of a few had altogether escaped 
the author's recollection. Various attempts had been 
made to induce De Quincey to draw together and 
revise a selection from the more important, of his 
scattered writings, but from his varying state of health 
and, consequent on this, his inveterate habit of pro- 
crastination, the work was always postponed ; and 



from his advanced years, all hope was given up of 
the collected works ever appearing under the superin- 
tendence of the author. 

In the year 1845, tne well-known periodical, 
Hoggs Instructor, was started under the manage- 
ment and sole responsibility of Mr. Hogg. Sixteen 
volumes of the Instructor as a weekly serial were 
published, and among many other contributors of note 
was the " Opium-Eater," and from the commence- 
ment of their intercourse De Ouincey and Mr. Hogg 
became firm friends. 

About this time several volumes of De Quincey's 
writings had been collected and published by Messrs. 
Ticknor and Fields, of Boston, U.S., without, of 
course, the advantage of the author's own revisal ; 
and, as the papers had been originally hurriedly 
written for magazines, and as, during the lapse of 
time, many changes had become unavoidable, the 
author felt that, in justice to himself, extensive addi- 
tions and, in some cases, suppressions were necessary. 
Arrangements were accordingly entered into for 
bringing out the collected works at home in a 
thoroughly revised and amended form, Mr. Hogg 
undertaking all the responsibility, and engaging to 
give his aid both in collecting the materials, and in 
generally seeing the volumes through the press. On 
the announcement of the publication it was confidently 
predicted by some of those who had been engaged in 
the previous attempts that not a single volume would 
ever appear. In order to afford ample time for the 
thorough revision of the work it was arranged that 
the publication should be spread over three years. 
The first volume appeared in 1853 ; but, instead of 
three years bringing the series to a close, eight years 


had elapsed before the thirteenth volume was com- 
pleted, and then De Quincey died the remainder 
of the thirteenth, and the whole of the fourteenth, 
being due to Mr. Hogg. During these eight years 
almost daily interviews or correspondence occurred 
between De Quincey and Mr. Hogg. To use the 
author's words, " the joint labour and patient per- 
severance spent in the preparation of these volumes 
was something perfectly astounding." In addition to 
the frequent and protracted interviews, the corre- 
spondence which passed during the progress of the 
work would fill a goodly volume. 

In order to account for the delays which so 
frequently occurred, De Quincey remarks upon 
one occasion : "I suffer from a most afflicting 
derangement of the nervous system, which at times 
makes it difficult for me to write at all, and always 
makes me impatient, in a degree not easily under- 
stood, of recasting what may seem insufficiently or 
even incoherently expressed." But, while suffering 
under this cause, he laboured under a daily and more 
formidable bar to progress, as annoying and perplex- 
ing to himself as to others. For many years he had 
been in the habit of correcting manuscript or of 
jotting down on loose sheets, more frequently on 
small scraps of paper, any stray thoughts that 
occurred to him, intending to use them as occasion 
might afterwards offer. These papers, however, 
instead of being methodically arranged and preserved, 
were carelessly laid aside, and were soon mixed up 
with letters, proofs, old and new copy, newspapers, 
periodicals, and other confusing litter, and the 
numerous volumes he received from literary friends 
and admirers, all huddled together on chairs, tables, 

10 2 


or wherever they at the moment might be stowed; 
Placing a high value on many things in this hetero- 
geneous mass, and feeling assured in his own mind 
that strange hands would only render confusion worse 
confounded, he would allow no one to endeavour to 
put the things in order. Indeed, if anything could 
have ruffled his gentle nature into the use of an angry 
\vord it would have been the attempt to meddle with 
these papers. They very rapidly increased, and every 
search after missing copy or proofs made matters 
worse. When a dead block occurred his invariable 
practice was to build them up, as they lay, against 
the wall of the room, and, as a consequence, every- 
thing went astray. A few extracts from notes to Mr. 
tfogg will show the labour, suffering, and worry which 
this state of chaos entailed : " My dear Sir, It is 
useless to trouble you with the ins and outs of the 
process the result is, that, working through most part 
of the night, I have not yet come to the missing copy. 
I am going on with the search, yet being walled up 
in so narrow an area (not larger than a postchaise as 
regards the free space), I work with difficulty, and the 
stooping kills me. I greatly fear that the entire day 
will be spent in the search." 

"Yesterday, suddenly, I missed the interleaved 
volume. I have been unrolling an immense heap of 
newspapers, &c., ever since six a.m. How so thick a 
vol. can have hidden itself, I am unable to explain." 

" The act of stooping has for many years caused me 
so much illness, that in this search, all applied to 
papers lying on the floor, entangled with innumerable 
newspapers, I have repeatedly been forced to pause. 
I fear that the seventeen or eighteen missing pages 
may have been burned suddenly lighting candles ; 


and I am more surprised at finding so many than at 
missing so few." 

" I am utterly in the dark as to where this paper is 
whether chez moi, or chez la presse (I use French 
simply as being the briefest way of conveying my 
doubts). Now mark the difference to me, according 
to the answer, i. On the assumption that the paper 
is in my possession, then, of course, I will seek till I 
find it, and no labour will be thrown away. But 2. 
On the counter assumption that the paper is all the 
while in the possession of the press, the difference to 
me would be this : That I should be searching for 
perhaps half a day, and, as it is manifestly not on my 
table, I should proceed on the postulate that it must 
have been transferred to the floor, consequently the 
work would all be unavoidably a process of stooping, 
and all labour lost, from which I should hardly recover 
for a fortnight. This explains to you my earnest- 
ness in the matter. Exactly the same doubt applies 
(and therefore exactly the same dilemma or alternative 
of stoop or stoop not) to some other papers." 

How keenly De Quincey felt in consequence of 
these continually recurring delays, the following 
sentences will show : " It distracts me to find that I 
have been constantly working at the wrong part. It 
is most unfortunate, nor am I able to guess the cause, 
that I who am rendered seriously unhappy whenever I 
find or suppose myself to have caused any loss of time 
to a compositor, whose time is generally his main 
estate, am yet continually doing so unintentionally 
and in most cases unconsciously. It seems as if to the 
very last my destiny were to cause delays." 

The frequency of the communications and personal 
interviews which occurred during the eight years in 


which the works were in progress may be inferred 
from the following : " My dear Sir, I have been in 
great anxiety through yesterday and to-day as to the 
cause of a mysterious interruption of the press inter- 
course with me. Now, it has happened once before 
that we were at cross purposes, each side supposing 
itself stopped by the other. As the easiest way, 
therefore, of creeping out of the mystery. I repeat it to 

Notwithstanding the continual interruptions and the 
difficulty of dragging the volumes through the press, 
the cordial and friendly feeling which existed between 
De Quincey and Mr. Hogg was never interrupted by 
a single jarring word. 

Since the fourteen volumes passed into the hands of 
Messrs. Black, they have added other two volumes, 
made up of biographies contributed by De Quincey 
to the "Encyclopaedia Britannica," and a number of 
papers which remained in Mr. Hogg's hands. 



HP HE foundation of the great publishing houses of 
London is co-temporary in date with the origin 
of the private banks and famous breweries ; for, as in 
the case of these establishments, the connections 
requisite were so extensive, and the needful capital, to 
render venture a success, so large, that in many 
instances the present great publishing firms have been 
the work of three, in some cases even of five, genera- 
tions. There have, of course, been isolated excep- 
tions, as in the instance of Archibald Constable, of 
Edinburgh ; but these rare cases, though often bene- 
ficial to the world - at large, have seldom been in- 
dividually successful. 

John McMurray, the founder of the great London 
house of Murray, was born in Edinburgh about the 
year 1795, of very respectable parents, who not only 
gave him a good education, but enlisted for him the 
sympathies of Sir George Yonge, then an official in 
high favour. Through Sir George's influence a com- 
mission was obtained in the Royal Marines, and in 


1762, we find from the Navy List, that John 
McMurray joins his frigate full, probably, of hopeful 
anticipations of the promotion that sometimes came 
so speedily in the days of the old French wars. The 
Peace of Paris, however, was signed in the following 
year, and, spite of patronage and merit, McMurray 
was, in 1768, still a second lieutenant, and, in point 
of seniority, thirty-fourth on the list. Disgusted with 
a profession from which he could hope so little, and 
eager for a more useful career in life, in this same 
year he embraced an opportunity that seemed to give 
him a chance of exchanging the lounging idleness of 
Chatham barracks for the busy activity of London 
business, in a trade very congenial to his tastes, and 
not unaccompanied with hopes of solid emolument. 

Among the friends he had made either afloat or 
at his Chatham quarters was William Falconer, who, 
a sailor boy " before the mast," had in the very year 
of McMurray's first entry into the service, published 
the beautiful poem of the " Shipwreck." This poem 
attracted great attention, and the author was pro- 
moted to the more honourable than lucrative position 
of midshipman. Fellow-townsmen and in those 
days blood was thicker than water and in some 
degree fellow-students, for both were lovers of books, 
they became firm friends ; and McMurray's first 
thought, when the offer of a bookseller's business was 
put before him, was to secure the aid of his literary 
friend in his new venture ; and an interesting letter, 
still preserved, gives the history of his commencement 
as a bookseller. Addressed to " Mr. William Falconer, 
at Dover," it runs as follows : 


"Brompton, Kent, 1 6th Oct., 1768. 

" DEAR WILL, Since I saw you, I have had the 
intention of embarking in a scheme that I think will 
prove successful, and in the progress of which I had 
an eye towards your participating. Mr. Sandby, 
bookseller, opposite St. Dunstan's church, has en- 
tered into company with Snow and Denne, bankers. 
I was introduced to this gentleman about a month 
ago, upon an advantageous offer of succeeding him 
in his old business, which, by the advice of my 
friends, I propose to accept. Now, although I have 
little reason to fear success by myself in this under- 
taking, yet I think so many additional advantages 
would accrue to us both, were your forces and mine 
joined, that I cannot help mentioning it to you, and 
making you the offer of entering into company. He 
resigns to me the lease of the house; the good- 
will ; and I only take his bound stock, and fix- 
tures, at a fair appraisement, which will not amount 
to more than 400, and which, if I ever mean to part 
with, cannot fail to bring in nearly the same sum. 
The shop has long continued in the trade ; it retains 
a good many old customers ; and I am to be ushered 
immediately into public notice by the sale of a new 
edition of Lord Lyttelton's ' Dialogues ;' and after- 
wards by a like edition of his 'History.' These 
works I shall 'sell by commission, upon a certain 
profit without risque ; and Mr. Sandby has promised to 
continue to me, always, his good offices and recom- 
mendations. These are the general outlines ; and if 
you entertain a notion that the conjunction would suit 
you, advise me, and you shall be assumed upon equal 

"Many blockheads in the trade are making for- 

i62 JOIM MURRA v. 

tunes ; and did we not succeed as well as they, I 

think it must be imputed only to ourselves 

Consider what I have proposed, and send me your 
answer soon. Be assured in the meantime that I re- 
main, dear Sir, 

"Your affectionate and humble Servant, 


" P.S. My advisers and directors in this affair have 
been Thomas Gumming, Esq., Mr. Archibald Paxton, 
Mr. Samuel Paterson, of Essex House, and Messrs. J. 
and W. Richardson, printers. These, after deliberate 
reflection, have unanimonsly thought that I should ac- 
cept of Mr. Sandby's offer." 

From some reason or other the offer was declined ; 
perhaps, as Falconer's biographer asserts, he was at 
this time (though absent for a while at Dover) living 
with his pretty little wife in an attic in Grub Street, 
toiling at his "Marine Dictionary," and with no pros- 
pect of raising the money requisite for the partner- 
ship proposed ; perhaps he had already accepted the 
pursership of the "Aurora" frigate. At all events, 
immediately after the publication of the third edition 
of his "Shipwreck," which was to have contained 
some lines addressed to McMurray, which, in the 
hurry of departure were omitted, he sailed in the 
"Aurora" for India. The Cape was safely reached, 
but after leaving it the "Aurora" was never heard of 
again. Ship, crew, and passengers were all lost, and, 
through the untimely death of the author, the " Ship- 
wreck" acquired a melancholy and almost prophetic 
interest, which speedily exhausted the third and 
many future editions. 

In the meantime John McMurray had commenced 


bookselling in earnest. It was at a time when, 
through Wilkes and Bute, national feeling seems to 
have run very high, and to be a Scotchman was 
hardly a recommendation to a beginner, and we find 
that, though McMurray headed all his trade bills with 
a ship, as a proud testimony to his naval antecedents, 
he found it convenient to drop the Scotch prefix of 
Me. The following copy of a trade card issued at 
the time is the first record we have of this alteration 
of title. 

JOHN MURRAY (successor to Mr. SANDBY), 

Bookseller and Stationer, 

At No. 32, over-against St. Dunstan's Church, 

in Fleet Street, 


Sells all new Books and Publications. Fitts up Public or Private 
Libraries in the neatest manner with Books of the choicest 
editions, the best Print," and the richest Bindings. 


Executes East India or Foreign Commissions by an assortment of 
Books and Stationary suited to the Market or Purpose for which 
it is destined : all at the most reasonable rates. 

Murray found that Sandby's connection at Fleet 
Street was a good one Mr. William Sandby, indeed, 
could have been no ordinary bookseller, for his father 
was a prebendary of Gloucester, and his brother a 
master of Magdalen College, while he was accepted 
as partner in a wealthy banking firm the trade were 
inclined to " back him up," and he was able to extend 
his business considerably in India and Edinburgh, 
where he had many friends. The new edition of 
Lord Lyttelton's "History" was brought out in 
stately quarto volumes, as befitted the rank of the 


author, and was completely issued in 17712, and, 
published " with a certain profit, without risque," must 
have proved much more remunerative than the 
original "Henry II." was to Sandby, who generously 
offered to pay for the author's corrections, and who 
found to his cost that not a single line was left as 
originally printed. 

Murray seems to have kept up his connection with 
Edinburgh, for in 1773 we find him London agent for 
the , Edinburgh Magazine and Review, and in the fol- 
lowing year, when it was proposed to separate the 
Magazine from the Review, Stuart writes to Smellie : 
"Murray seems fully apprised of the pains and at- 
tentions that are necessary, has literary connections, 
and is fond of the employment ; let him, therefore, be 
the London proprietor." Murray consented to " take 
a share," if his advice were attended to ; but the 
scheme of a review came to nothing, and even the 
existing Edinburgh Magazine and Revieiv died, in 
1776, of a violent attack on Lord Monboddo's "Ori- 
gin of Language." Murray offered his condolence in 
the following laconic note : 

" DEAR SMELLIE, I am sorry for the defeat you 
have met with. Had you praised Lord Monboddo 
instead of damning him, it would not have happened. 

"Yours, &c. 


Murray, now that the Edinburgh scheme had come 
to nothing, commenced in 1780 a volume of annual 
intelligence of his own under the title of the London 
Mercury ; and in January, 1783, with the assistance 
of a staff of able writers, among whom were Dr. Whit- 


taker and Gilbert Stuart, who had lately come from 
Scotland, he started the English Revieiv. 

A great portion of Murray's retail stock was medi- 
cal books, and for many years the house had a repu- 
tation in the medical world. Of the books, however, 
which he published, those more latterly issued proved 
by far the most successful, such as Langhorne's 
"Plutarch's Lives," Mitford's "Greece," and, in 1791, 
a thin octavo in which the elder Disraeli first gave 
the public his " Curiosities of Literature" all of 
them works which have since been annual sources of 
revenue to the firm. 

Murray found time, however, amidst all this busi- 
ness, to indulge his own literary tastes and aspirations, 
which had at one time been strong. Some of his 
pamphlets such as the " Letter to Mr. Mason on his 
Edition of Gray's Poems, and the Practice of Book- 
sellers " (1777) ; his "Considerations on the Freight 
and Shipping of the East India Company " (1786), 
and " An Author's Conduct to the Public, stated in the 
Behaviour of Dr. William Cullen " (1784) acquired 
much transient reputation. 

After a career, as successful we imagine as his 
wishes could desire, John Murray died on the 6th 
November, 1793, leaving behind him a widow, two 
daughters, and an only son, and bequeathing to the 
latter a business which was destined to carry the 
name of John Murray wherever the English language 
was spoken, and wherever English books were read, 
as the most venturesome and yet the most successful 
publisher who has ever, in London at all events, 
encouraged the struggles of authorship and gratified 
the tastes of half a world of readers. 

John Murray, the son, the more immediate object 


of our memoir, was born in 1778, and was consequently 
only fifteen at the time of his father's death. He had 
been educated primarily at the High School of Edin- 
burgh, doubtless with a view of keeping up the Scotch 
connection, and had afterwards been removed to 
" various English seminaries " among others to Dr. 
Burney's academy at Gosport, where, through the care- 
lessness of a writing-master, while making a pen with 
a penknife, he lost the sight of one of his eyes. The 
founder of the house not only left the business to his 
son, but left also a council of regency to manage 
affairs until he came to the natural years of discretion. 
By a last will, dated about one month before his 
death, the elder John Murray appointed four execu- 
tors among them his widow, Hester Murray, and 
Archibald Paxton, who in his letter to Falconer he 
had named as one of his principal advisers in adopting 
the bookselling trade. For a year or two after 1793 
the name of " H. Murray " figures at the top of the 
bills and trade circulars, and then disappears from 
them, Mrs. Murray having, it seems, in 1795, married 
" Henry Paget, Lieutenant in the West Norfolk 
Militia," and retired entirely from the management 
of the business. Murray was still too young to carry 
on the shop unaided, so his guardians admitted Mr. 
Highley, for a long time chief factotum in the shop 
and manager of the medical department, to a partner- 
ship with him. By the agreement the title of the new 
firm was to be "Murray and Highley ;" the latter was 
solely to conduct the business, and to receive half the 
profits until young John came of age, after which they 
were to enjoy equal powers and "share and share" 

Mr. Highley, who seems to have been a steady, 

John Murray reading a newspaper. 



plodding man with much latent exertion against all 
speculative venture, did little to increase the standing 
of the firm ; probably he imagined that the trade in 
medical books, as it was attended with the least risk, 
was the most remunerative portion of the business. 
His worthy soul was vexed at the anger excited by 
Whitaker's slashing articles in the English Review. 
"Enraged authors," it appears, took to sending huge 
parcels of defiant, contemptuous, and, worse still, 
unpaid MSS. to the publisher of the Review, com- 
plaining of the treatment which their books suffered 
at the hands of his critics, and " enraged authors " 
seem at this time to have been about the only 
readers of the savage periodical in question. One of 
the last numbers contains a notice that all unpaid 
post parcels may be inquired for again at the General 
Post Office ; and soon after Mr. Highley eased his 
shoulders of this burden by merging the English 
Review in the Analytical. 

Young Murray was at this time of a very different 
temperament to his partner full of youth, fire, and 
energy, and uncommonly gifted with that speculative 
spirit which must have caused the elder man many a 
time to shake his head sagely, and to lift his gravely 
deprecating eyebrows. In fact, youth and age can 
never see matters with the same eyes ; the one looks 
as through a telescope magnifying all things within 
vision some hundred-fold ; the other peers cautiously 
through spectacles, misty and begrimed, more used in 
guiding immediate footsteps than in gazing far ahead. 
Murray had attained his majority in 1799, and in four 
years the two partners resolved to sever their connec- 
tion in a pleasant and friendly manner. By the 
formal deed of separation, dated 25th March, 1803, 


Highley retained all the medical business. But the 
principal act of parting was of anything but a formal 
nature. They drew lots for the old house and Murray 
was fortunate enough to secure the winning prize. 
Highley moved to No. 24, Fleet Street, but was able 
afterwards, in 1812, when Murray migrated to Albe- 
marle^Street, to move back again, and here he in- 
creased his medical connection, leaving a thriving 
business to his son. 

In this very year of separation the Edinburgh 
Review was started, and Murray was probably 
reminded of the scheme in which his father had once 
been concerned with Smellie to produce a periodical 
under a similar title, but the time was not yet ripe 
for his own projects. 

In 1806, at the age of twenty-four, he married Miss 
Elliot of Edinburgh, a young lady descended from 
one of the best-known publishers in the Modern 
Athens, and this, perhaps, drawing his attention to 
household matters, led to the publication of Mrs. 
Rundell's " Domestic Cookery Book." It is said that 
the receipts came from the note-book of the mother of 
the late Admiral Burney, with whose family, be it 
remembered, he had been at school at Gosport. This 
was the first and one of the most lucrative " hits " 
that Murray made, and perhaps in the important 
items of s. d. rivalled " Childe Harold " itself, Byron 
sings of it in playful jealousy : 

"Along thy sprucest book-shelves shine 
The works thou deemest most divine, 
The Art of Cookery and mine, 
My Murray !" 

Murray's ambition however was not to be satisfied 
with the sop of a successful cookery book. His 


marriage may be supposed to have strengthened his 
interests in the Scotch metropolis, for in the following 
year we find Constable offering him a fourth share in 
Scott's forthcoming poem of " Marmion." " I am," 
writes Murray on the 6th Feb., 1807, " truly sensible 
of the kind remembrance of me in your liberal pur- 
chase. You have rendered Mr. Miller no less happy 
by your admission of him ; and we both view it as 
honourable, profitable, and glorious to be concerned 
in the publication of a new poem by Walter Scott." 
For an account of the success of " Marmion " we must 
refer the reader to the life of Archibald Constable ; it 
is enough for our present purpose to know that 
Murray afterwards said that this fourth share, for which 
he paid 250, brought him in a return of fifty-fold. 

The publication of " Marmion " was followed by a 
connection with Scott, who in the succeeding year 
edited for him Strutt's " Queen Hoo Hall." 

Scott had before this been concerned with Campbell 
in a projected series of "Biographies of the Poets," which 
had however come to nothing. Murray now thought 
that Scott's talents, and more especially perhaps his 
name, would bestow certain success upon the project ; 
and we find Campbell, who had just made a " poet's 
marriage " with love enough in his heart and genius 
enough in his brain, but " with only fifty pounds in 
his writing desk " inditing to Scott as follows : 

" MY DEAR SCOTT, A very excellent and gentle- 
manly man albeit a bookseller Murray of Fleet 
Street, is willing to give for our joint 'Lives of the Poets/ 
on the plan we proposed to the trade a twelvemonth 
ago, a thousand pounds. . . . Murray is the only gentle- 
man in the trade except Constable, ... I may perhaps 



also except Hood. I have seldom seen a pleasanter 
man to deal with. Our names are what he principally 
wants, especially yours. ... I do not wish even in 
confidence to say anything ill of the London book- 
sellers beyond their deserts ; but I can assure you 
that to compare this offer of Murray's with their usual 
offers is magnanimous indeed. Longman and Rees 
and a few of the great booksellers have literally 
monopolized the trade, and the business of literature 
is getting a dreadful one indeed. The Row folks have 
done nothing for me yet ; I know not what they in- 
tend. The fallen prices of literature which is getting 
worse by the horrible complexion of the times make 
me often rather gloomy at the life I am likely to lead. 
You may guess, therefore, my anxiety to close with 
this proposal ; and you may think me charitable indeed 
to retain myself from wishing that you were as poor as 
myself, that you might have motives to lend your aid." 
Scott, however, was too busy on higher paid 
work and was obliged to decline the offer, and 
for the present Campbell went back to his "hack- 
work." Poor Campbell had suffered much from the 
publishers. His "Pleasures of Hope" had been re- 
jected by every bookseller in Glasgow and Edinburgh ; 
not one of them would even risk paper and printing 
upon the chance of its success. At last Messrs. Mun- 
dell and Son, printers to the University of Glasgow, 
with much reluctance undertook its publication, upon 
the liberal condition of allowing the author fifty copies 
at trade price, and, in the event of its reaching a 
second edition, a gratuity of ten pounds. A few years 
afterwards, when Campbell was present at a literary 
dinner party, he was asked to give a toast, and without 
a moment's hesitation he^proposed " Bonaparte." 


Glasses were put down untouched, and shouts of " The 
Ogre!" resounded. " Yes, gentlemen," said Campbell 
gravely, " here is to Bonaparte ; he has just shot a 
bookseller !" Amid shouts of applause, for the dinner 
was in "Bohemia," the glasses were jangled and the 
toast was drank, for the news had but just arrived 
that Palm, a bookseller of Nuremburg, had been shot 
by the Emperor's orders. 

Constable scarcely thought, when he offered the 
fourth share of " Marmion " to Murray, that he was 
fostering a dangerous rival. Yet in the very year 
after the publication of "Marmion " he was projecting 
a rival quarterly, and the following letter to Canning, 
first printed in " Barrow's Autobiography," shows that 
Murray is entitled to the whole credit of the new 

"September 25th, 1807. 

" SIR, I venture to address you upon a subject 
that is perhaps not undeserving of one moment of 
your attention. 

" There is a work entitled the Edinburgh Review, 
written with such unquestionable talent that it has 
already attained an extent of circulation not equalled 
by any similar publication. The principles of this 
work are, however, so radically bad, that I have been 
led to consider the effect which such sentiments, so 
generally diffused, are likely to produce, and to think 
that some means equally popular ought to be adopted 
to counteract their dangerous tendency. But the 
publication in question is conducted with so much 
ability, and is sanctioned and circulated with such 
high and decisive authority by the party of whose 
opinions it is the organ, that there is little hope of 

II 2 


producing against it any effectual opposition, unless it 
arise from you, sir, and from your friends. Should you, 
sir, think the idea worthy of encouragement I should, 
with equal pride and willingness, engage my arduous 
exertions to promote its success; but as my object 
is nothing short of producing a work of the greatest 
talent and importance, I shall entertain it no longer, 
if it be not so fortunate as to obtain the high patron- 
age which I have thus, sir, taken the liberty to solicit. 
" Permit me to add, sir, that the person who thus 
addresses you is no adventurer, but a man of some 
property, including a business that has been esta- 
blished for nearly half a century. I therefore trust 
that my application will be attributed to its proper 
motives, and that your goodness will at least pardon 
its intrusion. 

" I have the honour to be, Sir, &c., &c, 


Canning read the letter, and though for the present 
it was put away in his desk unanswered, the contents 
were not forgotten, for a few years before this he had 
heard Murray's name mentioned in a very honourable 
way. Some Etonians, among them Canning's nephew, 
had started a periodical called the Miniature, which 
brought them some fame, but left them under a pecu- 
niary loss. Murray, with his usual good nature, and 
with something of the tact which afterwards made 
him so many powerful friends, took all copies off their 
hands, paid all their expenses, and though he found 
little demand for the work, offered to print a new 
edition. This was a trait of character that, with a 
clear-headed, far-seeing man like Canning, would pro- 
bably go far, As yet, however, the Principal Secre- 


tary for Foreign Affairs, though he gave the matter 
careful consideration, did not care to commit himself 
upon paper. 

Two months, however, before this letter Scott and 
Southey had been corresponding about the Edinburgh 
Review, Southey stating that he felt himself unable to 
contribute to a periodical of such political views, and 
Scott heartily agreeing in deprecating the general 
tone of the Review. 

Early in 1808, a very severe article came out in 
the Review anent " Marmion." Murray pricked up 
his ears, and, as he afterwards told Lockhart, " When 
I read the article on ' Marmion,' and another on 
general politics in the same number of the Review I 
said to myself, ' Walter Scott has feelings both as a 
gentleman and as a Tory, which those people must 
now have wounded. The alliance between him and 
the whole clique of the Edinburgh Review, the pro- 
prietor included, is shaken," * " and," adds Lockhart, 
" as far at least as the political part of the affair was 
concerned, John Murray's sagacity was not at fault." 

Murray saw that the right way to approach Scott 
was through the Ballantynes' printing press, in which 
Scott at this time was a secret partner, and in which 
he always expressed openly the greatest interest. So 
urgent did Murray's tenders of work become that a 
meeting at Ferrybridge, in Yorkshire, was arranged ; 
and here Murray received from Ballantyne the grati- 
fying news that Scott had quarrelled with Constable, 
and that it was resolved to establish a rival firm. 
Murray, who never wasted an opportunity from lack 
of decision, posted on to Ashestiel and had an inter- 
view with Scott himself, and the proposal of a new 
quarterly Tory periodical was eagerly snatched at, 


Strangely enough Murray arrived just as Scott, after 
reading an article on Spanish matters, had written to 
have his name erased from the list of subscribers to 
the Edinbiirgh. Murray was able to announce, too, 
that Gifford, the editor of the late Anti- Jacobin, had 
promised co-operation, and in a letter to Gifford we 
see Scott's satisfaction clearly enough : 

" John Murray of Fleet Street, a young bookseller 
of capital and enterprize, and with more good sense 
and propriety of sentiment than fall to the share of 
most of the trade, made me a visit at Ashestiel a few 
weeks ago, and as I found he had had some commu- 
nication with you on the subject, I did not hesitate to 
communicate my sentiments to him on these and some 
other points of the plan, and I thought his ideas were 
most liberal and satisfactory." 

Soon after Canning wrote to the Lord Advocate 
on the subject, and the Lord Advocate communicated 
with Scott, who recommended that in all things save 
politics the Edinburgh should be taken as a model, 
especially in the liberal payment of all contributors, 
and in the unfettered judgment of the editor. Gif- 
forcl was unanimously fixed on as fitted for the edito- 
rial chair. That he possessed vigour was apparent from 
his success a plough-boy, a sailor, a cobbler, then a 
classical scholar, the translator of "Juvenal," the 
biting satirist of the "Baviad and Mseviad," the brilliant 
editor of the Anti-Jacobin, who so well suited to out- 
rival Jeffrey ? 

All the talent available was secured. Scott came 
to town to be present at the birth of the expected 
prodigy, and well he might, for three of the articles 
in the first number were his own. Rose, and young 
Disraeli, and Hookham Frere, and Robert Southey 


the future back-bone of the Review were all repre- 
sented, and on 1st February, 1809, the first number 
of the Quarterly Revieiv was published. According 
to tradition there were high jinks at Murray's shop 
in Fleet Street when the first numbers arrived from 
the binders ; a triumphal column of the books " was 
raised aloft in solemn joy in the counting-house, the 
best wine in the cellar was uncorked, and glasses in 
hand John Murray and assistants danced jubilant 
round the pile." The pile, however, did not long re- 
main, as so many famous columns have done to mock 
the hope of its builders, but the whole issue was sold 
almost immediately, and a second edition was called 

To the second number Canning himself contributed, 
and received his payment of ten guineas per sheet 
Barrow, too, was introduced, who contributed, in all, 
no less than one hundred and ninety-five articles, " on 
every subject, from ' China ' to ' Life Assurance.' " 
After Barrow and Croker, Southey was, perhaps, the 
most prolific ; to the first hundred and twenty-six 
numbers he contributed ninety-four articles many of 
them of great permanent value and to him Murray 
uniformly exhibited a generosity almost without 
parallel. For an article on the " Lives of Nelson," he 
received twenty guineas a sheet, double what Southey 
himself acknowledged to be ample, and he was offered 
;ioo to enlarge the article into a volume, and having 
exceeded the estimated quantity of print, Murray 
paid him double the amount stipulated, adding 
another 200 guineas when the book was revised for 
the " Family Library." For the review of the " Life 
of Wellington," Southey got ,100, and he thought the 
sum so large that" he himself calls it " a ridiculous 


price ;" yet this ridiculous price he continued to 
receive, and he was in the habit of saying that he 
was as much overpaid for his articles by Murray, as 
he was underpaid for the rest of his work for other 
publishers. " Madoc," of which he had great hopes, 
brought him $ 19^. id. for the first twelvemonth, 
and the three volumes of the " History of the Brazils," 
scarcely paid their expenses of publication. 

Of the other contributors it is unnecessary to speak 
fully here ; but the Review, now that it was esta- 
blished, gave Murray at once a pre-eminence in the 
London trade, by bringing him into connection with 
the chief Conservative statesmen, and with the prin- 
cipal literary men in England. 

The alliance that Murray had formed with the 
Ballantynes was soon dissolved, for Murray, though 
venturous enough, was a man of business, and their 
loose, slip-shod way of general dealings, did not at all 
satisfy his requirements. William Blackwood, then a 
dealer in antiquarian books, was chosen instead as 
Edinburgh agent, and, in conjunction with him, Murray 
purchased the first series of the " Tales of My Land- 
lord." This was in 1816, and some payments for 
Quarterly Review articles was well-nigh the last busi- 
ness communication between Scott and Murray. 

Now that Murray had so completely rivalled Con- 
stable in one line that of the Review he wished to 
rival him in another. Constable had made an ap- 
parent fortune out of Scott's poetry, in which Murray 
had in one case, to the extent of one quarter, partici- 
pated. Scott had, it is true, left Constable, but was 
for the present unalienable from the Ballantynes, who 
at this moment enjoyed the dubious services of a 
London branch. 


Looking round among the young and rising writers 
of the day, for one who was likely to enhance the 
fame and increase the wealth of his house, Murray 
mentally selected Lord Byron, then known, not only 
as the noble poetaster of the "Hours of Idleness," but as 
the bitterest satirist who had dipped pen in gall since 
Pope had lashed the hack-writers of his time in the 
" Dunciad." Murray made no secret of his wish to 
secure Byron as a client, and the rumour of this desire 
reached the ears of Mr. Dallas, the novelist, who 
happened at that very moment to be seeking a pub- 
lisher for a new poem in two cantos, by his distant 
cousin and dear college chum, Lord Byron. Byron 
had just arrived from the East, bringing with him a 
satire, entitled " Hints from Horace," of which he was 
not a little hopeful, and also, as he casually mentions, 
a "new attempt in the Spenserian stanza." Dallas 
read the " new attempt," and, enthralled by its beauty, 
forthwith undertook securing its publication. But, 
even in those days of venturous publishers and suc- 
cessful poems, the matter looked easier than it proved. 
Longman declined to publish a poem by a writer who 
had so recently lashed his own favourite authors. 
Miller, of Abermarle Street, a notable man in his day, 
and generous withal (had he not given the widow of 
the late Charles James Fox 1500 for her defunct 
husband's historical fragments, and did he not eagerly 
snatch at one-fourth share of " Marmion ?") would 
have none of it, his noble patron, Lord Elgin, being 
abused in the very first canto. Dallas then appears 
to have heard a rumour of Murray's willingness ; the 
manuscript was taken to him, and 600 was offered, 
there and then, for the copyright. Byron was at that 
time unwilling to receive money for work done solely 

178 JOffN MURRAY. 

for love and fame ; he had lately attacked Scott in a 
directly personal manner, as " Apollo's venal son :"- 

" Though Murray with his Miller may combine 
To yield thy Muse just half-a-crown per line !" 

and generously made a present of the copyright to 
Dallas a brother author, less gifted in purse and 
brain and thus the bargain was concluded. This 
was the commencement of a friendship between author 
and publisher which has, perhaps, only one parallel in 
literary annals that of Scott and Constable. From 
the letters between Byron and Murray we can discern 
clearly that the connection, tinged as it was with 
much generous feeling on both sides, was far from 
being of a purely commercial nature. 

" Childe Harold," for this, of course, is the poem 
referred to, was "put in hand" at once. Quartos 
were then in vogue for all books likely to attract 
attention, and Murray insisted that profit as well as 
portliness was to be found therein. Byron was for 
octavos and popularity ; but as he said wofully at 
the end of one of his letters, " one must obey one's 
bookseller." During the progress of the printing, 
Byron would lounge into the shop in Fleet Street, 
fresh from Angelo's and Jackson's. " His great 
amusement," says Murray, "was in making thrusts 
with his stick, in fencer's fashion, at the 'spruce books,' 
as he called them, which I had arranged upon my 
shelves. He disordered a row for me in a short time, 
always hitting the volume he had singled out for the 
exercise of his skill. I was sometimes, as you will 
guess, glad to get rid of him." As for correction, 
Byron was willing enough to defer at any time to 
Murray's advice, upon all questions but politics, 

JOHN MURRA y. i 79 

though only to a limited extent : " If you don't like 
it, say so, and I'll alter it, but don't suggest anything 
instead." In one letter we find a strange absence of a 
young writer's anxiety anent the importance of typo- 
graphy. "The printer may place the notes in his 
own way, or in any way, so that they are out of my 
way." In another : " You have looked at it? to much 
purpose, to allow so stupid a blunder to stand ; it is 
not ' courage/ but ' carnage/ and if you don't want 
to see me cut my own throat see it altered !" Again, 
but later, "If every syllable were a rattlesnake, or 
every letter a pestilence, they should not be ex- 
punged." " I do believe the Devil never created or 
perverted such a fiend as the fool of a printer." " For 
God's sake," he writes in another place, " instruct 
Mr. Murray not to allow his shopman to call the work 
' Child of Harrow's Pilgrimage ! ! !' as he has done to 
some of my astonished friends, who wrote to inquire 
after my sanity on the occasion, as well they might !" 
To John Murray we imagine Lord Byron must have 
appeared as much of a contradiction as he did to the 
world outside. 

Byron was extremely anxious that no underhand 
means should be used to foster the success of " Childe 
Harold." " Has Murray," he writes to Dallas, " shown 
the work to any one,? He may but I will have no 
traps for applause." On receipt of a rumour from 
Dallas, he indites a stormy letter to Murray, abso- 
lutely forbidding that Gififord should be allowed to 
look at the book before publication. Before the letter 
arrived, however, Gifford had expressed a very strong 
opinion, indeed, as to the merit of the poem, which he 
declared to " be equal to anything of the present day." 
Byron wrote again to Murray, " as never publisher 


was written to before by author :" " It is bad enough 
to be a scribbler, without having recourse to such 
shifts to escape from or deprecate censure. It is 
anticipating, begging, kneeling, adulating the devil ! 
the devil ! the devil ! and all without my wish, and 
contrary to my desire." 

In the early spring of 1812, " Childe Harold " was 
ready, and three days before its appearance, Byron 
made his maiden speech in the House of Lords ; a 
speech which was received with attention and hailed 
with applause, from those whose applause was in itself 
fame. It is needless here to recapitulate the success 
of " Childe Harold," how, on the day after publication, 
Lord Byron awoke, and, as he himself phrased it, 
found himself famous. 

The publication of " Childe Harold," was not the 
only important event of this year, 1812, to the subject 
of our memoir. In this same year,, Murray purchased 
the stock-in-trade of worthy Mr. Miller, of 50, Albe- 
marle Street, and migrated thither, leaving the old 
shop, east of Temple Bar, to be re-occupied by-and- 
by (in 1832) by the Highley family. 

Here it was, at Albemarle Street, that Murray at- 
tained the highest pinnacle of fame on which ever 
publisher stood. His drawing-room, at four o'clock, 
became the favourite resort of all the talent in litera- 
ture and in art that London then possessed, and there 
were giants in those days. There it was his " custom 
of an afternoon," to gather together such men as Byron, 
Scott, Moore, Campbell, Southey, Gifford, Hallam, 
Lockhart, Washington Irving, and Mrs. Somerville ; 
and, more than this, he invited such artists as Laurence, 
Wilkie, Phillips, Newton, and Pickersgill to meet 
them and to paint them, that they might hang for 


ever on his walls. Famous tales, too, are told of the 
" publisher's dinners ;" of tables surrounded as never 
any king's table but that of the " Emperor of the 
West's " had ever been. As Byron makes Murray s^ay, 
in his mock epistle to Dr. Palidori 

" The room's so full of wits and bards, 
Crabbes, Campbells, Crokers, Freres, and Wards, 
And others, neither bards nor wits, 
My humble tenement admits 
All persons in the dress of gent, 
From Mr. Hammond to Dog Dent. 
A party dines with me to-day, 
All clever men who make their way ; 
Crabbe, Malcolm, Hamilton, and Chantrey 
Are all partakers of my pantry. 

# -M- * # 

My room's so full we've Gifford here, 
Reading MS. with Hookham Frere, 
Pronouncing on the nouns and particles 
Of some of our forthcoming articles." 

Mr. Planche, in his recently-published "Recollec- 
tions," gives us an amusing account of one of these 
literary reunions ; this time, however, at the house of 
Horace Twiss. Murray, James Smith, and others re- 
mained in the dining-room very late, and the party 
grew noisy and merry, for Hook was giving some of 
his wonderful extempore songs. Pressed for another, 
he declared that the subject should be " John Murray ;" 
but the "Emperor of the West" objected most vehe- 
mently, and vainly chased Hook round the table in fur- 
tive endeavours to stop a recitative, of which Planche 
only remembers the beginning : 

" My friend, John Murray, I see, has arrived at the head of the table, 
And the wonder is, at this time of night, that John Murray should be 


He's an excellent hand at supper, and not a bad hand at lunch, 
But the devil of John Murray is, that he never will pass the punch !" 


Among the many instances of Murray's munificence 
was the offer of 3000 to Crabbe for his " Tales of the 
Hall," and the copyright of his prior works. Some 
zealous friends, however, thought this too small a sum, 
and opened negotiations with another firm, but the 
other firm offered considerably less ; and Crabbe, 
fearing that Murray might consider the bargain as out 
of his hands entirely now, went straightway to Albe- 
marle Street with Rogers and Moore as mediators. 
Murray, however, assured them that he had from the 
first considered the matter as entirely settled. 

Lord Byron's personal connection with the Albemarle 
Street clique was of comparatively short existence, for, 
in 1816, he left England for the last time ; but to the 
time of his death he kept up a regular correspondence 
with Murray of the frankest and most cordial kind. 
Now, Murray hearing that Lord Byron was in diffi- 
culties, sends him a draft for 1500, promising another 
for the same amount in the course of a few months, 
and offering to sell the copyright of his works for his 
use, if that were not sufficient. Then, again, in a 
freak, Byron presents Murray with " Parisina " and 
the "Siege of Corinth," and returns the cheque for 
1000 which the publisher had forwarded. 

" Your offer is liberal in the extreme, and much 
more than the two poems can possibly be worth ; but 
I cannot accept it, nor will not. You are most wel- 
come to them as an addition to the collected volumes,* 
without any demand or expectation on my part what- 

" P.S. I have enclosed your draft, torn, for fear of 
accidents by the way. I wish you would not throw 
temptation in mine ; it is not from a disdain of the 
universal idol, nor from a present superfluity of his 


treasures, I can assure you, that I refuse to worship 
him ; but what is right is right, and must not yield 
to circumstances." 

The following is in a somewhat different tone : 

" You offer 1 500 guineas for the new canto of (" Don 
Juan "). I won't take it. I ask 2500 guineas for it, 
which you will either give or not, as you think proper. 
If Mr. Moore is to have 3000 for "Lalla," &c., if Mr. 
Crabbe is to have 3000 for his prose or poetry, I ask 
the aforesaid price for mine." (" Beppo " was eventually 
thrown into the bargain.) "You are an excellent 
fellow, mio caro Murray, but there is still a little leaven 
of Fleet Street about you now and then a crumb of 
the old loaf. ... I have a great respect for your good 
and gentlemanly qualities, and return your friendship 
towards me ; and although I think you are a little 
spoiled by ' villanous company,' with persons of honour 
about town, authors, and fashionables, together with 
your ' I am just going to call at Carlton House, are 
you walking that way ?' I say, notwithstanding 
' pictures, taste, Shakespeare, and the musical glasses,' 
you deserve the esteem of those whose esteem is worth 

Now, like a spoiled child, Byron wishes back all his 
copyrights, and intends to suppress all that he has 
ever written, and Murray has to chide him and coax 
him, with much disinterestedness, urging him to 
labour steadily for a few years upon some work 
worthy of his talents, and fit to be a true monument 
of his fame. 

Some of Byron's letters are in an earnest, many in a 
playful, mood, most in prose, but sometimes the poet 
breaks into a charming doggrel of delicious " chaff." 
Here is one specimen ; 

i $4 JOHN M URRA V. 

" Strahan, Tonson, Lintot of the times, 
Patron and publisher of rhymes, 
For thee the bard of Pindus climbs, 
My Murray. 

" To thee, with hope and terror dumb, 
The unfledged MS. authors come ; 
Thou printest all and sellest some 
My Murray. 

" Upon thy tables' baize so green, 
The last new Quarterly is seen, 
But where is thy new magazine, 

My Murray ? 

" Along thy sprucest bookshelves shine 
The works thou deemest most divine, 
The ' Art of Cookery,' and mine, 

My Murray. 

" Tours, Travels, Essays, too, I wist, ] 
And Sermons to thy mill bring grist ; 
And then thou hast the ' Army List,' 
My Murray. 

" And Heaven forbid I should conclude 
Without the ' Board of Longitude,' 
Although this narrow paper would, 

My Murray !" 
VENICE, March 25, 1818. 

There was no end to Byron's wit and playfulness. 
Sometimes Murray would act as a mentor and adviser 
in more serious matters, but his advice would be 
pleasantly turned off with a jest. At the time when 
Byron was most calumniated, when there were cruel 
stories afloat about the life he led and the opinions he 
held (though none so cruel as have since been promul- 
gated by a well-known American authoress), Murray's 
soul was comforted by the present of a Bible a gift 
from the illustrious poet. " Could this man," he asked, 
" be a deist, an atheist, or worse, when he sent Bibles 


about to his publishers ?" Turning it over in wonder- 
ment, however, some inquisitive member of his four- 
o'clock clique found a marginal correction "Now 
Barabbas was a robber," altered into " Now Barabbas 
was a publisher? A cruel stab, a " palpable hit," 
maybe, at some publishers, but, as regards Murray, an 
uproarious joke to be gleefully repeated to every 
comer. As a refutation of this playful libel, and as 
the clearest and most succinct way of showing what 
amounts of money Byron really did receive, we append 
the following account : 


1807 Hours of Idleness 

1809 English Bards and Scotch Reviewers 

1 8 12 ChildeHarold,l.II* 600 

1813 TheGaiour 525 

,, Bride of ' Abydos ... ... ... ... 525 

1814 Corsair* ... ... ... 525 

,, Lara 700 

1815 Hebrew Melodies^ 

1816 Childe Harold^ll 1,575 

Siege of Corinth 525 

,, Parisina ... ... ... ... .. 525 

,, Prisoner of Chilian ... ... ... ... 525 

i8r7 Manfred 315 

,, Lament of Tas so ... ... ... ... 315 

1818 Beppo 525 

Childe Harold, IV 2,100 

1819 Mazeppa 525 

,, Don Juan, I. II 1,525 

1820 Don Juan, III. IV. V 1,525 

,, Marino Faliero 

Doge of Venice ... ... 1,050 

1821 Sardanapaltts, Cain, and Foscari ... ... 1,100 

,, Vision of Judgment % 

Carried forward ,. ... .15,005 

* Given to Dallas. 

f Published by James Power, music seller. 
% Written at Geneva, and published by John Hunt, London. 



Brought forward ... . . . 1 5, 005 

1822 Werner ; Deformed Transformed ; Heaven 
and Earth, to which were added Hours 
of Idleness, English Bards, Hints from 

Horace, &c. 3>8S5 

Sundries ... ... ... ... ... 450 

1822 Don Juan, VI. VII. VIII. IX. X. XI. ... 

1823 Age of Bronze, The Island, and more cantos 

of Don Juan 

Total .... 19,340 
Life, by Thomas Moore 4,200 


Murray's kindness to Byron may be said to have 
displayed itself even after his death. In 1821, Byron 
had given his friend Moore his autobiography, partly 
as a means of justifying his character, partly to enrich 
his friend. Moore, pressed as usual for money, made 
over the MS. to Murray for the sum of 2000 guineas, 
undertaking to edit it in case of survivorship. He 
subsequently intended to modify the transaction by a 
clause to be inserted in the deed, by which he, Moore, 
should have the option of redeeming it within three 
months after Byron's death. When Byron did die, in 
1824, the MS. was given to Gifford to read, and found 
to be far too gross for publication, and, spite of Moore's 
wish to modify it, Sir John Hobhouse and Mrs. Leigh 
insisted upon its being destroyed. Murray offered to 
give it up upon repayment of the 2000 guineas ; and 
after an unpleasant scene in Murray's shop, the MS. 
was destroyed by Wilmot Horton and Colonel Doyle, 
with the full consent of Moore, who repaid Murray the 
sum advanced by a draft on Rogers. . 

No sooner had it been burnt than it was found that, 
through the want of the clause above named, Moore's 
interest in the MS. had entirely ceased at Byron's 


death ; and though Moore, nobly and firmly, refused to 
receive the money back from Byron's friends, he chose 
to consider for a time that Murray had wronged him. 
He took a proposal to Longman of a "Life of 
Byron," and the matter was partially arranged, when 
Moore, urged on both by his feelings and his friends, 
seeing Murray in the street, started after him. " Mr. 
Murray, some friends of yours and mine seem to think 
that we should no longer continue on these terms. I 
therefore proffer you my hand, and most heartily for- 
give and forget all that has passed." Murray's face 
brightened into smiles, and on parting he said, " God 
bless you, sir, God bless you !" Longman agreed, 
upon this, that Murray was the publisher to whom a 
life of Byron most properly belonged, and Murray 
eventually gave ^"4200 for one of the most delightful 
and entertaining biographies in our literature a com- 
panion volume, in every way, to Boswell's "Johnson" 
and Lockhart's " Scott." Murray, in this transaction, 
seems to have behaved with generous firmness. Now 
that Byron was dead, the autobiography would cer- 
tainly have proved the most remunerative of all his 
works ; and Moore himself, in his Diary, ultimately 
confessed that "Murray's conduct" had been admirable 

In this year, 1824, not only did Murray lose the 
services and the friendship of his best client, Lord 
Byron, who died at Missolojighi on the iQth of April, 
but Gifford, the able editor of the Quarterly, was 
incapacitated for further work, and resigned his post, 
Mr. John Coleridge, then a young barrister, succeeded, 
but though accomplished, clever, and able, he was 
" scarcely strong enough for the place ;" Southey 
found out his incapacity for saying " no," and under 



his auspicious reign began to make the Review a 
quarterly issue of his own miscellaneous works. 
Strangely enough in the mourning coach that followed 
GifTord to his grave Murray drove with the man who 
was destined as an editor to rival the powers of the 
upbuilder of the Quarterly 's reputation this of course 
was John Gibson Lockhart, a young Edinburgh 
advocate, the son-in-law of Scott, and more than that, 
the author of "Peter's Letters," of "Valerius," of 
" Reginald Dalton," the translator of " Frederick 
Schlegel," and the "Ancient Spanish Ballads," and 
the noted contributor to Blackivood. Moore first 
heard of the arrangement down at Abbotsford, when 
Scott, after dinner, hopeful of his daughter's interests, 
and proud, maybe, of his son-in-law, grew confidential. 
" Lockhart was about to undertake the Quarterly, has 
agreed for five years ; salary 1200 a year, and if he 
writes a certain number of articles it will be 1500 
a year." In this year, though the prospects of the 
Quarterly were ably secured, Murray met with the 
only really adverse turn of fortune, to which through 
a long career, and a bold one, he was ever subject. 
The terrible commercial crisis which had been so long 
overhanging, burst at last into a deluge of ruin Con- 
stable's house was swept away, the Ballantynes were for 
the moment overthrown, and Scott had to give up his 
lordly estates of Abbotsford, and generously work his 
life out to redeem a name on which he deemed a 
commercial slur had been cast. Murray, though he 
suffered by the panic, as all must suffer in the time of 
a general epidemic, was not severely hurt. Still, 
looking back now with the wisdom of wiseacres, who 
think we could have prophesied easily the actual events 
that did occur, the time does seem a strange one in 


which to start a new venture. This was nothing less 
than the establishment of a new Conservative journal, 
which was to rival the Times as the Quarterly rivalled 
the Edinburgh. According to the current rumour, it 
was young Disraeli (now the wily and veteran leader 
of the Conservative party) who first proposed the 
scheme ; and, according to current rumour still, it 
was under his editorship, and with Dr. Maginn as 
chief foreign correspondent, that the Representative 
(price sevenpence daily) was started on the 26th of 
January, 1826. The journal was able, well-informed, 
and well-written, but the Times had a monopoly, and 
the Conservative party were not strong enough to 
support a first-rate organ of their own, and after a 
brief existence of six months, the Representative gave 
up the struggle. Murray was wont in future days, 
when rash young speculators urged the necessity of 
embracing some opening for a new daily paper, to 
point to a ledger on his book-shelves and say grimly, 
" Twenty thousand pounds lie buried there !" 

The question as to who was the actual editor of the 
Representative has never been definitely settled. Mr. 
Disraeli, until the last year, never disclaimed the sup- 
posed connection, and silence was considered as pro- 
verbially affirmative. Lockhart, too, has been put for- 
ward as a claimant; The nearest approach to any 
opinion that might have been final was given by the 
late James Hannay in the pages of the Edinburgh 
Courant. " We had the best authority for what we 
said nay, the only authority since even to Mr. 
Murray the question of the Representative's editorship 
is not a personal one. We now add that Mr. Disraeli's 
long silence in the matter admits of an explanation 
which will gratify his admirers of all parties. He hesi- 


tated to come forward with any eagerness to make a 
denial, which might have been interpreted as spring- 
ing from a wish to disclaim newspaper association, but 
when the story was passing into literature in such a book 
as the biography of an eminent British writer, it was 
time to protest against any further propagation of the 
story, once and for all." But this "best and only autho- 
rity " did nothing to render the question less intricate, 
for when Mr. Grant published the first instalment of 
his " History of the Newspaper Press," he thoroughly 
outdid Hannay, and with that ingenuous facility of 
arbitrating over moot points, and that mysterious 
power of catching rumours, as boys catch moths, and 
pinning them down in his collection under the general 
label of " facts," gave full details of Mr. Disraeli's con- 
nection with the Representative, the amount of his 
salary, together with a luxurious description of the 
splendours of his editorial offices ! Mr. Disraeli roused 
at last, replied curtly that the whole narrative was en- 
tirely imaginary, and utterly devoid of fact or founda- 
tion in any one point. He has since then in a letter, 
upon a similar question, written by his solicitor to the 
Leisure Hour, declared that : 

" Mr. Disraeli never in his life required or received 
any remuneration for anything he ever wrote, except 
for books bearing his name. 

" Mr. Disraeli never was editor of the Star Cham- 
ber, or any other newspaper, journal, review, or 
magazine, or anything else." 

To return, however, to legitimate book-publishing. 
About this time Campbell's old scheme of " Biogra- 
phies of the Poets" was revived, re-appearing under the 
title of " Specimens of the British Poets ;" and Murray 
was so pleased with the work that he made the 


stipulated sum of 500 into double that amount. To 
Allen Cunningham, too, he gave $o per volume 
additional for his " Lives of the British Artists," and 
made the payment retrospective. 

We could repeat five hundred anecdotes of his 
liberal and kindly generosity, but our space only per- 
mits us to record another, which it is very pleasant to 
read about. 

It was twenty-two years since the obscure Fleet 
Street bookseller had embraced the " glorious and pro- 
fitable" opportunity of taking a fourth share in " Mar- 
mion," and since then Sir Walter Scott had achieved 
an unparalleled position in the world of English 
letters, had written innumerable works, and had 
earned unheard-of sums and had been completely 
ruined. With the aid of his creditors, Scott was now 
seeking to recover all his copyrights for a final edition 
of his collected works. AH had been bought back 
save this fourth share of " Marmion." Lockhart was 
commissioned by his father-in-law to inquire on what 
terms the share might be re-purchased, and this was 
Murray's immediate reply : 

" Albemarle Street, June 8th, 1829. 

"MY DEAR SIR, -Mr. Lockhart has this moment 
communicated your letter respecting my fourth share 
of the copyright of ' Marmion.' I have already been 
applied to by Messrs. Constable and Messrs. Long- 
man to know what sum I would sell this share for ; 
but so highly do I estimate the honour of being, 
even in so small a degree, the publisher of the author 
of this poem, that no pecuniary consideration what- 
ever can induce me to part with it. 

"But there is a consideration of another kind, 


which until now I was not aware of, which would 
make it painful to me if I were to retain it longer. 
I mean the knowledge of its being required by the 
author, into whose hands it was spontaneously re- 
signed in the same instant that I read his request. 

" The share has been profitable to me fifty-fold 
beyond what either publisher or author could have 
anticipated, and, therefore, my returning it on such 
an occasion, you will, I trust, do me -the favour to 
consider in no other light than as a mere act of grate- 
ful acknowledgment, for benefits already received by 

" My dear Sir, 

" Your obliged and faithful Servant, 

This noble act, we must remember, was performed 
at a time when the future was anything but bright, or 
at all events when the present was dismally gloomy. 
"Lydia Whyte," writes Tom Moore, "told me that 
Murray was very unsuccessful of late. Besides the 
failure of his Representative, the Quarterly did not 
look very promising, and he was about to give up the 
fine house he had taken in Whitehall, and return to 
live in Albemarle-street." 

Constable had, some years previous, hit upon the 
idea of appealing to a public that should be numbered, 
not by tens of thousands, but by hundreds of 
thousands, ay, and by millions ! and had just com- 
menced his " Miscellany." Murray, quick to receive 
a good idea, started at once into competition with his 
" Family Library," Lockhart commencing the series 
with a " Life of Napoleon " and the " Court and Camp 
of Bonaparte." Cunningham followed with his " Lives 
of the British Painters," and Southey revised his " Life 


of Nelson," and expanded another review article into 
a " Life of Wellington," on terms equally munificent 
with the other. 

Cheap editions of Byron were multiplied by the 
score ; Landor received a thousand guineas for his 
"Journals of African Travel," and Napier another 
thousand for his first volume of the " History of the 
Peninsular War." If Murray neglected opportunities, 
he generally managed to retrieve them. He might 
have had the " Bridgewater Treatises ;" and he says, 
"The ' Rejected Addresses ' were offered me for ten 
pounds, and I let them go by as the kite of the 
moment. See the result ! I was determined to pay 
for my neglect, and I bought the remainder of the 
copyright for 1 50 guineas." Murray might have added 
that he generously gave the Smiths a handsome share 
in the ultimate profits. 

Sometimes, too, he had the sagacity to buy the 
failures as well as the successes of other publishers. 
Constable produced a little " History of England," in 
one small volume, which fell still-born from the press. 
Murray purchased it for a trifle, re-christened it with 
his usual happiness, and as " Mrs. Markham's History 
of England " the work has been an annual source of 
revenue to the house, as the present Mr. Murray's last 
trade sale list would tell us. 

Murray was never dazzled by the fame of his Byrons, 
his Moores, his Campbells, and his Crabbes, but 
always recollected that " taste " is flitting, while works 
that only aid the necessities of mankind are always 
saleable. The "Army and Navy List" and the 
" Nautical Almanack " are every whit as profitable 
to-day as in the first year of their publication. Moore 
tells a story that shows he could still occupy his mind 


as well as fill his purse with " Mrs. Rundell's Cookery 
Book." " Called at Murray's," he writes in his 
"Diary/' for 1831: "mentioned to him Lady 
Morgan's wish to contribute something to his 
1 Family Library,' and that she has materials ready 
for the lives of five or six Dutch painters. ' Pray, 
isn't Lady Morgan a very good cook ?' I answered 
I didn't know ; but why did he ask ? ' Because,' said 
he, ' if she would do something in that line ' Why, 
you don't mean,' said I, ' that she should write a 
cookery book for you ?' ' No,' answered John, coolly, 
' not so much as that ; but that she should re-edit 
mine ' (Mrs. Rundell's, by which he had made heaps 
of money). Oh, that she could have heard this with 
her own ears ! Here ended my negotiations for her 

It was not merely to Englishmen that Murray ex- 
tended a helping and a generous hand. When the 
first volume of the " Sketch Book," originally 
published in America, made its appearance in Lon- 
don, it was declined by Murray, and Irving was about 
to publish it on his own account ; but after all 
arrangements had been made the printer failed. 
Lockhart had praised the book in Blackwood; and 
Scott, seeing at once its sterling worth, with his usual 
kindliness, pressed its merits upon Murray, who gave 
Irving 200 for it, afterwards more than doubling the 
amount. Murray's transactions with Irving exhibit a 
singular phase of the international copyright law. 
This is how their account stands 

''Sketch Book" ... ... ... 467 

"Bracebridge Hall" ... ... 1050 

" Tales of a Traveller " ... ... 1575 

"Life of Columbus" ... ... 3150 

Carried forward ... .6242 


Brought forward 
" Companions of Columbus " 
' ' Conquest of Grenada " 
( ' Tour on the Prairies " 
<l Abbotsford and Newstead " 
<l Legends of Spain " 

Total ... ^9767 

These sums of money having been paid, Mr. Bohn 
reprinted the volumes in a cheap edition. A law suit 
was of course the result, in which Murray's expenses 
ran up to 850, and Mr. Bonn's were probably as 
heavy. The question, however, was settled amicably, 
without being fought to the bitter end, and Irving 
received no more money from this side the Atlantic. 

Most of the famous men with whom Murray had 
been connected had by this time disappeared, many 
of them having shed their rays meteor-like, and having 
done the duty unto which they were created in a 
momentary flash. The seething excitement called 
into being by the throes of the first French Revolution 
had subsided, and there were neither readers left to 
appreciate true poetry, nor true poets remaining, with 
strength of voice left in them to bring back memories 
in passion-laden melodies of the troublous times they 
sprung from. All, on the contrary, was quiet and 
easeful a happy time for commerce, but a barren 
hour for art. 

Murray, skilled as any pilot in watching the direc- 
tion of the wind, turned his attention to the publica- 
tion of travels and expeditions the very books for a 
fireside afternoon, when the wind is howling outside, 
and the snow-storm beating on the windows and 
very soon Albemarle Street was as famous for its 
" Travels " as it had previously been for its " Belles^ 


Lettres." Among the most valuable and successful 
of these were the expeditions of Mungo Park, Belzoni, 
Parry, Franklin, Denham, and Clapperton. 

Murray had just launched his " Classical Hand- 
books," under the editorship of his son had just 
made, in trade parlance, " another great hit " in Lady 
Sale's " Journal in Afghanistan " when an attack of 
general debility and exhaustion compelled him to 
leave business and success alone and for ever. He 
rallied so often that no serious results were anticipated 
by his family or physician ; but after a very short ill- 
ness he died suddenly on the 2/th June, 1843, in the 
fifty-sixth year of his age, leaving three daughters and 
one only son. To his widow, in a will dated only 
seven days before his death, he bequeathed the whole 
of his estate. 

A gentleman by manners and education ; generous 
and open-handed, not for purposes of display, often 
not from mere trade motives, but from a true desire 
to return to genius and industry something of what 
he derived from them ; an excellent man of business, 
with more powers of work than most men, under- 
standing better than any how to measure the calibre 
of an author's genius, and to gauge the duration of his 
popularity ; skilful in timing a publication, so as to 
ensure a favourable reception, and yet honestly abhor- 
ring any recourse to the low art of puffing such was 
John Murray as a publisher ; the best representative 
of an honourable calling, and one who by his own 
influence tended not a little to make the years of his 
own working life the best representative period of 
English literature. 

Mr. John Murray, who succeeded at once to his 
father's business, was born in the year 1808, and was 


consequently, in 1843, admirably fitted, by years and 
professional training, to take the management of so 
important a concern. He was educated at the Charter- 
house and at Edinburgh University,* and had had, 
moreover, all the advantages that foreign travel could 
bestow. As early as 1831, we hear of "Mr. John 
Murray, Jun.," at Weimar, presenting Goethe with the 
dedication of Byron's " Marino Faliero," and being 
received, together with that mocking and yet reverent 
tribute, in a gracious, kindly manner. 

Mr. Murray thoroughly followed his father's idea, 
that the age had now come for the cheap publication 
of useful and practical books, and in the first year of 
his accession, issued the prospectus of his " Home 
and Colonial Library," which, being published at half 
the price of the " Family Library," was at least twice 
as successful, and was continued for upwards of six 
years. During these early years Mr. Murray made 
one mistake, and achieved one great success. The 
mistake was, however, in common with every pub- 
lisher in London, for " Eothen " went the rounds of 
the metropolitan book market, and was eventually 
published by a personal friend of Mr. Kinglake's. 
Mindful of his father's precedents, Murray soon secured 
the copyright. The success, on the contrary, con- 
sisted in accepting what other publishers had refused, 
and issued from Albemarle Street, Campbell's " Lives 
of the Lord Chancellors " has proved one of the 
most successful biographical works of the time. 
In travel, biography, history, and science, the present 
Mr. Murray has fully sustained the name of the old 
house, and it is sufficient here to mention only the 
names of Hallam, Barrow, Wilkinson, Lyell, Gordon 


Gumming, Layard, Murchison, and Sir Robert Peel, 
to see how much we owe him. 

On Lockhart's death, in 1854, the Reverend Whit- 
well Elwin was selected to fill the editorial chair of 
the Quarterly, and since that date the political opinions 
of the periodical have been considerably modified ; 
at any rate, men of all parties have been allowed to 
write conscientiously in its pages, and it is even 
rumoured, that before this, its old opponent, Lord 
Brougham, contributed at least one article (that on 
Chesterfield, in vol. Ixxvi.). 

Among the most successful library books that Mr. 
Murray has recently published, we must instance 
those by Mr. Smiles and Dr. Livingstone, and, more 
especially, those by Mr. Darwin. 

Mr. Murray's name is, however, most familiar to us 
now as the publisher of the famous Handbooks for 
travellers, the series now extending, not only through 
the outer world, but embracing our English counties ; 
these latter, it is said, owing much to Mr. Murray's 
personal editorship. 

In closing our short sketch of the " House of Mur- 
ray," we cannot refrain from re-echoing a wish that 
has been often uttered before, that the present repre- 
sentative may find time amidst his professional 
labours, to edit the letters and to write a worthy life 
of the great John Murray. No book that has ever 
been issued from Albemarle Street could be more 
popular or more welcome. 


"\"\7"E have already, in our account of Archibald 
Constable, shown how deeply the brilliant 
writers who for a while gave a bold literary supre- 
macy to the northern capital were indebted to the 
daring spirit and the generous purse of one Scottish 
publisher ; we have here to follow the narrative of a 
rival's life a life at outset very similar, but soon 
diverging widely, and which, actuated by very different 
principles, and aiming at very different results, was 
destined to open the arena of literary struggle to 
those whom honest political feeling had for a moment 
rendered dumb and inactive. 

William Blackwood was born at Edinburgh, on the 
20th Nov., 1776, of parents in an humble position in 
life, who, however, with the honest endeavour of most 
of their class in the north, contrived to give him a 
very excellent elementary education. From his 
earliest days, William had exhibited a strong love for 
books, and at the age of fourteen he was apprenticed 
to Bell and Bradfute, of his native city ; nor, indeed, did 
his education suffer from this premature removal from 
school ; there is much leisure in a bookseller's shop, 


even for an industrious boy, and opportunity of more 
various reading than comes within the reach of many 
sixth-form scholars and university undergraduates. 
" It was here," says an obituary notice, " that he had so 
largely stored his mind with reading of all sorts, but 
more especially with Scottish history and antiquities, 
that on establishing himself in business, his accom- 
plishments attracted the notice of persons whose 
good opinion was distinction." Before the expiry 
of his time, in 1797, he must also have displayed a 
talent for business-life, for we find that he was imme- 
diately engaged by Messrs. Mundell & Co., then 
largely employed in the book trade at Edinburgh, to 
take the sole management of a branch house at Glas- 
gow ; and being thus, at the early age of twenty 
years, thrown almost entirely upon his own resources, 
and with his own judgment for his only guidance, he 
acquired that decision of character which distinguished 
him throughout after-life, and which was so instrumental 
in the fortunes of his house. In spite, however, of all 
his efforts, the firm of Mundell & Co. did not prosper 
at Glasgow it was they, the reader may, perhaps, 
remember, who purchased the " Pleasures of Hope," 
for only fifty printed copies of the work, from 
Campbell and after his year's service was over, he 
returned to Edinburgh, and re-entered the employ- 
ment of Bell and Bradfute, with whom he remained for 
another year. In 1800, he entered into partnership 
with Mr. Ross, bookseller and bookseller's auctioneer ; 
but the auctioneering part of the business proved dis- 
tasteful to him, and the old book trade presented a 
much more suitable field for his talents. With the 
energy of youth he started for London, and was 
initiated u into the mysteries of bibliography by Mr. 


Cuthell, "famous," as Nichols says, "for his cata- 
logues." Here he stayed for three years, and then, in 
1804, came back to Edinburgh and opened an old- 
book shop, in South Bridge Street. For several years 
he almost confined his attention to the sale of rare 
and curious books, more especially those relating to 
the antiquities and early history of Scotland. His 
shop, like that of Constable, soon became a regular 
literary haunt, and he speedily acquired a reputation 
second to none of his own line in Edinburgh, and in the 
matter of catalogues, he rivalled Cuthell, his master ; 
that one published in 1812 being the first in which 
the books were regularly classified, and " continues," 
says Mr. Chambers, "to be an authority to the 
present day." . The old-book trade was at that time 
in its most flourishing condition, Dibdin was firing the 
minds of curiosity-seekers with a love for rare quartos 
and folios ; Heber, and many more after his kind, 
were spending the main portion of their time, and the 
vast bulk of their fortunes, in the acquisition of 
immense libraries ; and the old-booksellers of the day 
were making large incomes. Blackwood's success by 
no means satisfied his ambition, but enabled him to 
enter the field of publishing as a rival to Constable, 
who was now at the height of his glory. As early as 
1811, we find him bringing out " Kerr's Voyages," a 
work of considerable importance and expense, and 
which was, shortly succeeded by Macrie's " Life of 

Blackwood's sojourn in London, and the credit 
attracted by his enterprising book-catalogues, led the 
way to his being appointed agent to several of the 
London booksellers, among others, to John Murray, 
and to them, conjointly, the tale of the "Black 



Dwarf" was offered when Scott considered it desir- 
able to bring it out in other hands, and with a title- 
page apparently by another author. Blackwood wrote 
to say that, in his opinion, the unravelling of the end 
of the story might be improved, and offered to pay 
for cancelling the proofs. Gifford, too, to whom 
Murray had shown it, was of a like opinion. Scott 
differed most essentially ; witness his letter to Ballan- 
tyne : 


" I have received Blackwood's impudent letter. 
G d his soul, tell him and his coadjutor that I 
belong to the Black Hussars of Literature, who 
neither give nor receive criticism. I'll be cursed but 
this is the most impudent proposal that ever was 

This, of course, brought the proposal to a close for 
the time, though, as Lockhart says, " Scott did both 
know and appreciate Blackwood better in after times." 

Blackwood was now, from the profits of the old- 
book trade and the success of his own publishing 
ventures, in a fair way to success, and in 1816 he took 
the bold step of selling off all his old stock and 
migrating to Prince's Street. " He took possession," 
says Lockhart, in " Peter's Letters," " of a large and 
airy suite of rooms in Prince's Street, which had 
formerly been occupied by a notable confectioner, 
and whose threshold was, therefore, familiar enough 

to all the frequenters of this superb promenade 

Stimulated, I suppose, by the example and success of 
John Murray, whose agent he is, he determined to 
make, if possible, Prince's Street to the High Street, 
what the other had made Albemarle Street to the 


Row." It was riot without liliich forethought, we 
may be sure, that this step was Undertaker!, and the 
speedy establishment of the famous magazine clearly 
shows us what was the chief motive to such a ven- 
turous change. 

The magazine literature of the day was wofully 
weak. The vitality with which Cave had endowed 
the Gentleman's Magazine, had long since died away. 
No more such "hack-writers" as Johnson and Gold- 
smith came forward to enliven its pages, at the meagre 
payment of four guineas a sheet, and now it only 

" Hopped its pleasant way from church to church, 
And nursed its little bald biography." 

Such was the type of English periodical literature, 
and the Scotch were certainly no better off. The 
Scots Magazine stood Constable, it is true, in good 
stead, but only as a nursery ground, from which 
writers might be trained for transplantation to a 
stronger soil. Vastly different was the condition of 
the rival quarterlies ; but still, in Scotland at all 
events, the Edinburgh carried everything after its own 
desire. Wit the writers had in plenty learning, too, 
and the gift of open-speaking ; but to fairness, biassed 
as they were by party ties, they never laid the least 
claim, and yet all Edinburgh was enthralled by the 
opinions of the Edinburgh Revieiv, for intellectual 
attainments at that time commanded for their posses- 
sors the leading place in the society of the Modern 
Athens, and, as the principles advocated in its pages 
were decidedly opposed to those of the existing 
administration, the success it indubitably had at- 
tained, the vast following it was gathering, not only 
irritated but alarmed the Scotch Tory party. 



Of course, the actual inventorship of the new 
ject is a disputed point, but the evidence seems to tell 
us that, however the idea of a new Conservative organ 
had been talked over in literary coteries (and what 
scheme has not been planned a thousand times before 
execution whenever literary men meet together ?), the 
plan had long been entertained and spoken of by 
Blackwood ; and, as he proceeded -to carry it into 
execution, the scheme may to all intents and purposes 
be regarded as his own. 

Two gentlemen were engaged Pringle and Cleg- 
horn who had received their training in the enemy's 
camp, as editors in chief, and with the assistance of 
Hogg, and the promised support of Scott and many 
other men of talent, the first number of the Edinburgh 
Monthly Magazine was issued on All-Fools' Day, 
1817 an ominous day for Blackwood, for he soon 
discovered that the prophets he had summoned to 
curse, heaped blessings on the heads of his opponents. 
This first number differed but little from other periodi- 
cals of its class. Only half the space was devoted to 
original matter, and the very opening pages contained 
a panegyric upon Horner, then lately deceased, an 
Edinburgh Reviewer a Whig, and not much else. 
" You can't say too much about Sydney Smith and 
Brougham," said Scott to Jeffrey ; " but I will not 
admire your Horner. He always puts me in mind of 
Obadiah's bull, who, although, as Father Shandy ob- 
served, he never produced a calf, went through his 
business with such a grave demeanour that he always 
maintained his credit in the parish." Nor was this 
the worst. In No. 3 a violent defence of the 
Edinburgh was undertaken warmly. This was too 
much for Blackwood ; he gave his editors notice of a 


coming change, and after much chaffering he was 
glad to pay 125 down, and get rid at once of them 
and the magazine ; and somewhat, doubtless, to his 
chagrin they immediately returned to Constable and 
took charge of the Scots Magazine, which, under the 
title of Constables Edinburgh Magazine, made a futile 
effort to re-juvenate itself. 

With the sixth number of the Edinburgh' Monthly 
Magazine had appeared a notice stating that "this 
work is now discontinued, this being the last number 
of it ;" but in the following month, with an alteration 
in the title, it arose, Phcenix-like, from the ashes, and, 
as BlackwoocPs Edinburgh Magazine, No. 7, created 
a sensation which has never perhaps been equalled. 
There was, to commence with, a monstrous list of all 
possible and impossible articles, chiefly threatened 
attacks upon the Edinburgh, then a violent attack 
upon their former defence of the Edinburgh Re- 
viewer's onslaught upon Burns and Wordsworth ; but 
the great feature in No. 7 (No. i in reality of Black- 
wood] was the " Translation from an Ancient Caldee 
Manuscript," in which the circumstances of the late 
feud, and Constable's endeavours to repair the for- 
tunes of his old magazine, and the resuscitation of 
" Maga" the birth, that is, of the genuine " Maga " 
are thrown into an allegorical burlesque. 

"The two beasts (the two late editors), the lamb 
and the bear, came unto the man who was clothed in 
plain apparel, and stood in the door of his house ; and 
his name was as if it had been the colour of ebony 
(Blackwood], and his number was the number of a 
maiden when the days of her virginity have expired 

(No. 17, Prince's Street), and they said unto 

him, Give us of thy wealth, that we may eat and live, 


and thou shalt enjoy the fruits of our labour for a time, 
times or half a time. 

" And he answered and said unto them, What will 
ye unto me vvhereunto I may employ you ? 

" And they proffered unto him a Book, and they 
said unto him, Take thou this, and give us a piece of 
money, that we may eat and drink and our souls may 

" And we will put words into thy Book that shall 
astonish the children of thy people. And it shall be 
a light unto thy feet and a lamp unto thy path ; it 
shall also bring bread to thy household, and a portion 
to thy maidens. 

" And the man hearkened unto their voice, and he 
took their Book, and he gave them a piece of money, 
and they went away rejoicing in heart. And I heard 
a great noise, as if it had been the noise of many 
chariots, and of horsemen prancing upon their horses. 

" But after many days they put no words in the 
Book, and the man was astonied, and waxed wroth, 
and said unto them, What is this that ye have done 
unto me, and how shall I answer those to whom I am 
engaged ? And they said, What is that to us ? see 
thou to that. 

" And the man wist not what for to do ; and he 
called together the friends of his youth, and all those 
whose heart was as his heart, and he entreated them, 
and they put words into the Book ; and it went abroad, 
and all the world wondered after the Book, and after 
the two beasts that had put such amazing words into 
the Book. 

" Then the man who was crafty in counsel and 
cunning in all manner of work (Constable), when this 
man saw the Book, and beheld the things which were 


in the Book, he was troubled in spirit and much cast 

(< And he hated the Book and the two beasts that 
put words into the Book, for he judged according to 
the reports of men ; nevertheless, the man was crafty 
in counsel, and more cunning than his fellows. 

"And he said unto the two beasts, Come ye and 
put your trust under the shadow of my wings, and we 
will destroy the man whose name is as ebony and his 

" And the two beasts gave ear unto him, and they 
came over to him, and bowed down before him with 
their faces to the earth. . . . 

" Then was the man whose name is as ebony ' sore 
dismayed/ and appealed to the great magician who 
dwelleth by the old fastness hard by the river Jordan 
which is by the Border (to Walter Scott}, and the 
magician opened his mouth and said, Lo ! my heart 
wisheth thy good, and let the thing prosper which is 
in thy hands to do it. 

" But thou seest that my hands are full of working, 
and my labour is great. For, lo ! I have to feed all 
the people of my land, and none knoweth whence his 
food cometh, but each man openeth his mouth and 
my hand filleth it with pleasant things. ( This is more 
than a shrewd guess a.t the authorship of the Waver ley 

" Moreover, thine adversary also is of my familiars 
(Constable, his publisher}. 

" Yet be thou silent, peradventure will I help thee 
some little." 

Chapter II. shows us Blackwood gazing despon- 
dently from his inner chamber, when a veiled figure 
appears, who 


" Gave unto the man in plain apparel a tablet con- 
taining the names of those upon whom he should call ; 
and when he called they came, and whomsoever he 
asked he came. . . . 

"And the first which came was after the likeness of 
the beautiful leopard, - from the valley of the palm- 
trees, whose going forth was comely as the greyhound, 
and his eyes like the lightning of fiery flame (Pro- 
fessor Wilson, author of the 'Isle of Palms!} . . . 

" There came also from a far country, the scorpion 
which delighteth to sting the faces of men, that he 
might sting sorely the countenance of the man which 
is crafty, and of the two beasts (Lock/tart). 

" Also the great wild boar from the forest of Leba- 
non, and he roused up his spirit ; and I saw him 
whetting his dreadful tusks for the battle" (James 

Then come Dr. Macrie, Sir William Hamilton, 
Arthur Mower, " and the hyaena that escheweth the 
light, and cometh forth at eventide to raise up and 
gnaw the bones of the dead, and it is as a riddle unto 
a vain man (Riddell, the legal antiquarian}. 

"And the beagle and the slowhound after their 
kind, and all the beasts of the field, more than could 
be numbered, they were so many." 

In Chapter III., Constable finds that the "bear" 
and the " lamb " are unprofitable servants, and he, 
too, calls for aid, but Jeffrey " the familiar spirit unto 
whom he had sold himself" Leslie, and Playfair 
contributors to the Edinburgh refuse to come. In 
Chapter IV., Constable does get aid from Macney 
Napier, and others. 

" And when I saw them all gathered together, I 
said unto myself, Of a truth the man which is crafty 


hath many in his host, yet, think I, that scarcely will 
these be found sufficient against them which are in the 
gates of the man who is clothed in plain apparel. . . . 

" Verily the man which is crafty shall be defeated, 
and there shall not escape one to tell of his over- 

"And while I was yet speaking, the hosts drew 
near, and the city was moved ; and my spirit failed 
Within me, and I was sore afraid, and I turned to 
escape away. 

"And he that was like unto the messenger of a 
king, said unto me, Cry : and I said, What shall I 
cry ? for the day of vengeance is come upon all those 
that ruled the nation with a rod of iron. 

" And I fled into an inner chamber to hide myself, 
and I heard a great tumult, but I wist not what it was." 

It is very hard for us now to duly appreciate the 
crushing effect of this Caldee manuscript. 

It is certainly humorous, after a fashion now so 
prevalent in America, and undoubtedly witty. 

Among the Edinburgh people of that time, when 
every man knew his neighbour, the effect was abso- 
lutely prodigious. A yell of despairing pain arose 
from one portion of the Whig party, who, if they had 
no administrative power in their hands, had hitherto 
held a patent of all -literary ability ; and from the 
other portion came an equally discordant cry, which 
eventually culminated in a fierce accusation of blas- 
phemy and irreligion. Perhaps, however, the strongest 
test we can apply to the power of this galling squib is 
the fact that every title bestowed in its pages has 
" stuck " to the individual against whom it was di- 

Blackwood was alarmed at the commotion he had 


caused, withdrew the obnoxious article from the 
second edition, suppressed it in what he could of the 
first, and in the second number inserted the following 
announcement : " The editor has learnt with regret 
that an article in the first edition of last number, 
which was intended merely as a jeu d? esprit, has been 
construed so as to give ofTence to individuals justly 
entitled to respect and regard ; he has, on that ac- 
count, withdrawn it in the second edition, and can 
only add that, if what has happened could have been 
anticipated, the article in question certainly never 
would have appeared." It was, however, too late, 
war had been declared to the knife, and Blackwood 
was nothing loath to continue the struggle. 

" The conception of the Caldee MS.," says Wilson's 
son-in-law, Professor Ferrier, " and the first thirty- 
seven verses of Chapter I., are to be ascribed to the 
Ettrick Shepherd ; the rest of the composition falls to 
be divided between Professor Wilson and Mr. Lock- 
hart, in proportions which cannot now be determined." 
Again, Mrs. Gordon tells us that this audacious squib 
was composed in her grandmother's house, 23, Queen 
Street, where Wilson lived, " amid such shouts of 
laughter as made the ladies in the room above send to 
inquire and wonder what the gentlemen below were 
about ;" and yet she adds, as if to protect her father 
from suspicion of a share in it, that she " cannot trace 
to her father's hand any instance of unmanly attack, 
or one shade of real malignity." Very probably not ; 
but at the same time the fun of the squib is decidedly 
in Wilson's favourite manner. " An old contributor to 
Blackwood, 3 ' who, in 1860, furnished a most interest- 
ing and full account of Maga and Blackwoodiana to 
the columns of the Bookseller, asserts, in reference to 


Hogg's claim, " on the best authority (that of the man 
who did write it), that there is no foundation what- 
ever for any such pretext. The hare was started by 
Wilson at one of those symposia which preceded and 
perhaps suggested the Nodes. The idea was caught 
up with avidity by Hogg, and some half-dozen verses 
were suggested by him on the ensuing day ; but we 
are, we believe, correct in affirming that no part of his 
cbauche appeared in the original or any other draft of 
the article." It is to be wished that this writer, whose 
article evidently exhibits personal knowledge, and, 
apart from a running attack upon Hogg, due imparti- 
ality, had, in putting forward a new version of the 
story, in contradiction to those already given, been en- 
abled to give us the name of the writer, apparently, 
from the wording of the context, a new claimant. 

Not only were Blackwood's " enemies" discomforted, 
but even his friends were sore dismayed. The first num- 
ber of Blackivood bore the imprint of John Murray, but 
the " Caldee MS." caused him to withdraw his name, 
but after passing through the hands of three different 
London agents, the sixth again appeared under his 
countenance. This number, however, contained some 
unpalatable strictures on Gififord and the Quarterly 
Reveiivers, and the Albemarle Street patronage was 
again withdrawn, only to be renewed in the eleventh 
number ; but by the time it reached the seventeenth 
he washed his hands of it entirely, and in future it ap- 
peared without the ornamental appendage of any Lon- 
don bookseller's name ; the agency, distinctly one of 
sale only, was given to Cadell and Davies, who found 
it profitable enough to occupy the greater part of their 
attention. Cadell, naturally as nervous as Murray of 
giving, or being in any way instrumental in giving, 


offence, kept a stereotyped reply in readiness for any 
angry victim who rushed into his shop for redress 
" I know nothing of the contents of the magazine ; I 
am merely the carrier of a certain portion of its circu- 
lation to its English readers." 

From the commencement of the new series from 
the foundation that is of Blackwoods Edinburgh 
Magazine Black wood's fortunes and even the story of 
his life are inextricably bound up in the- progress of 
the periodical ; for he did not again, once he had got 
rid of Pringle and Cleghorne, entrust its charge and 
conduct to the care of any editor. For a long time 
Wilson was supposed to occupy the editorial chair. 
This supposition is treated in a letter, printed by his 
daughter : " Of Blackwood I am not the editor, al- 
though I believe I very generally got both the credit 
and discredit of being Christopher North. I am one 
of the chief writers, perhaps the chief writer, but never 
received one shilling from the proprietor, except for 
my own compositions. Being generally on the spot, 
I am always willing to give him my advice, and to 
supply such articles as are most wanted, when I have 
leisure." " From an early period of its progress," says 
Lockhart, speaking of 'Blackwood and the magazine, 
" it engrossed a very large share of his time ; and 
though he scarcely ever wrote for its pages himself 
(three articles, we believe, he did contribute), the 
general management and -arrangement of it, with the 
very extensive literary correspondence which this in- 
volved, and the constant superintendence of the press, 
would have been more than enough to occupy entirely 
any man but one of his first-rate energies." 

Before we follow up the chronicle of the life of 
Blackwood and its proprietor, it will be necessary to 


take a retrospective glance at the causes which ren- 
dered it possible to convert the snug, orthodox, and 
more than slightly Whiggish Edinburgh Monthly 
Magazine into the slashing, defiant, jovial, dare-devil 
of Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine. This change 
was chiefly due to the influence of two men, Wilson 
and Lockhart, who, together with Hogg, had, under 
the old regime, contributed all there was of wit and 
sparkle. With these three writers, and the promise of 
further support, Blackwood had changed his mind as 
to putting his ill-fated periodical to the untimely end 
he had announced ; and we have seen something, and 
shall see more, as to how far this determination was 
justified by success. In the meantime, it is essential 
to know a little of these two men, to whom primarily 
all the success was due. 

John Wilson, the great Tory champion, was de- 
scended, not from a county family, but from a 
wealthy Paisley manufacturer; and, after taking all 
possible prizes at Glasgow University, went to conquer 
fresh worlds at Oxford, where he not only won the 
Newdigate prize of 50 by one of the best prize 
poems extant, in fifty lines, but excelled in all sports, 
to which a magnificent frame, a temper universally 
good, a wild exuberance of animal spirits, and a 
thirsty love of adventure could contribute. 

Strange tales are told of his Oxford escapades ; of 
recess rambles with strolling players ; of wanderings, 
when smitten by the charms of a gipsy-girl, for weeks 
together with her tribe ; of sojournings as a waiter at 
a country inn, to be close to one of the fair waitresses. 

However, his dreams of adventure were surrendered 
only after having planned an expedition to Timbuctoo, 
and he purchased an estate at Windermere, to be near 


the Lake school of poets, with whom he sooii threw in 
his fortune. After the publication of the "Isle of 
Palms," and the " City of the Plague," he joined the 
Scotch Bar, and in the Parliament House struck up an 
acquaintance with another briefless barrister -Lock- 
hart, seven years younger than himself, 

John Gibbon Lockhart was also educated at Glas- 
gow University, where gaining the " Snell " founda- 
tion, he was sent, at sixteen, to Balliol ; after taking a 
first-class degree he travelled on the Continent, re- 
turning only when it was necessary to enter at Edin- 
burgh as an advocate, Silent in private life, he found 
he could not speak at all in public; and many years 
afterwards, when making a speech at a farewell din- 
ner, given in honour of his departure to undertake the 
editorship of the Quarterly, he broke down, as usual, 
and stuttered, " Gentlemen, you know I can't make a 
speech ; if I could, we shouldn't be here." 

Briefless both, and both endowed with strong literary 
tastes, they became sworn friends, though Wilson, 
with his splendid physique, his loose-flowing yellow 
hair, his deep-blue eyes, his glowing imagination, his 
eloquent tongue, and his defiance of all precedent, 
was as opposite a being as well could be imagined to 
Lockhart, who, to borrow Wilson's own words, had 
" an e'e like an eagle's, and a sort of lauch about the 
screwed-up mouth o' him that fules ca'd nae canny, for 
they couldna tholl the meaning o't ; and either set 
dumb-foundered, or pretended to be engaged to 
sooper, and slunk out o' the room." 

With two such men as these it was little wonder 
that Blackwood resolved to continue the battle. The 
weapon, however, which had been so successfully used 
in the onslaught upon the Edinburgh Revieiv became 


In the hands of young writers flushed with victory, 
instruments of aggression against those who had never 
offended ; and, as it happened that the writers who 
were most personal in their attacks upon friend and 
foe alike were also the cleverest and most brilliant, 
Blackwood's position became one of difficulty. Lock- 
hart " who stung the faces of men " and sometimes 
their hearts cared little as to who his shafts were 
directed against so long as they were sharp and 
biting. Cameleon-like he appeared in a thousand 
different forms. Now as the " veiled editor " himself, 
now the Dr. Morris of " Peter's Letters/' and now as 
Baron Lauerwinkel, stabbing his contemporaries 
under the guise of a German commentator. Against 
all the members of the " Cockney School," a personal 
invective was habitually employed by him, at which 
in these calmer days of drier criticism we can only stand 
aghast. He says of Leigh Hunt, " The very concubine 
of so impure a wretch would be to be pitied ; but, alas, 
for the wife of such a husband !" and so forth. 

In the February' number of Maga a new contri- 
butor, Billy Maginn, made his first bow to the public 
as Mr. Ensign O'Doherty. Maginn was at this time 
a rollicking young Irishman of marvellous classical 
and literary acquirements, who at four-and-twenty 
had achieved the difficult honour of taking a degree 
of Doctor of Laws at Dublin, never before earned by 
one so young. He had a wonderful gift of impro- 
vising in either verse or prose, and his talents were so 
versatile, his reading, though desultory, so universal, 
that he could immediately treat any subject, no matter 
what, in a sparkling and dashing manner. When, 
however, under the influence of liquor, he was per- 
fectly unmanageable ; and his writings bore every 


stamp of his own character. One of his first squibs 
in Blackwood was a Latin version of " Chevy-chase," 
which, in a foot-note expressed more than a doubt as 
to the Hebraical knowledge of Professor Leslie an 
Edinburgh Reviewer who had recently been appointed 
to the University Chair of Philosophy. The enraged 
professor summoned the aid of the law. Blackwood 
accepted the challenge and inserted another article 
by Maginn, which stated that the professor " did not 
even know the alphabet of the tongue which he had 
the imprudence to pretend to criticise," and charged 
him, in addition, of stealing his pet theories respect- 
ing heat, from an old volume of the " Philosophical 
Transactions." The damages awarded amounted to 
100, but as all the legal talent in Edinburgh was 
engaged in what was regarded as a party trial, the 
costs were unusually heavy. Nothing scared, how- 
ever, Blackwood welcomed the writer to Edinburgh 
when he chose to cast off his incognita. 

The magazine was thriving now, and circulated 
throughout the kingdom. Blackwood, busy as he 
was with its management, found time to push his 
general publishing business steadily forward. The 
issue of Brewster's " Edinburgh Encyclopaedia " was 
continued, and Lockhart's talents were utilized beyond 
the pale of Maga. In 1818 Schlegel's "History of 
Literature," translated by Lockhart, was published ; 
and in 1819 appeared Lockhart's "Peter's Letters to 
his Kinsfolk, by Dr. Peter Morris " a series of 
sketches of all things Scotch, from which we extract an 
account of Blackwood and his shop : 

" First there is as usual a spacious place set apart 
for retail business, and a numerous detachment of 
young clerks and apprentices, to whose management 


this important department of the concern is entrusted. 
Then you have an elegant oval saloon, lighted from the 
roof, where various groups of loungers and literary dilet- 
tanti are engaged in looking at, or criticising among 
themselves, the publications just arrived by that day's 
coach from town. In such critical colloquies, the 
voice of the bookseller himself may ever and anon be 
heard mingling the broad and unadulterated notes of 
its Auld Reekie's music ; for, unless occupied in the 
recesses of the premises with some other business, it 
is here that he has his usual station. He is a nimble, 
active-looking man of middle age, and moves from 
one corner to another with great alacrity, and appar- 
ently under the influence of high animal spirits. His 
complexion is very sanguinous, but nothing can be 
more intelligent, keen, and sagacious than the expres- 
sion of the physiognomy ; above all the gray eyes and 
eye-brows, as full of locomotion as those of Catalani's. 
The remarks he makes are in general extremely acute 
much more so indeed than any other member of 
the trade I ever heard speak upon such topics. The 
shrewdness and decision of the man can, however, 
stand in need of no testimony beyond what his own 
conduct has afforded above all in the establishment 
of his magazine (the conception of which I am as- 
sured was entirely his own) and the subsequent 
energy with which he has supported it through every 
variety of good and evil fortune. It would be unfair 
to lay upon his shoulders any portion of the blame 
which any part of his book may have deserved ; but 
it is impossible to deny that he is well entitled to 
whatever merit may be supposed to be due to the 
erection of a work founded in the main upon good 
principles, both political and religious, in a city where 


a work upon such principles must have been more 
wanted, and, at the same time, more difficult than in 
any other with which I am acquainted." 

On leaving the shop, Dr. Peter is taken to dine at 
" a house in the immediate neighbourhood, frequently 
alluded to in the magazine as the great haunt of his 
wits." This was Ambrose's, mentioned in the "Caldee 
MS." " as thou lookest to the road of Gabriel and the 
land of Ambrose!' At this favourite tavern, at the 
nodes ccenceqne deum, was foreshadowed what was 
destined to be by far the most interesting portion of 
the earlier series of Blackiuood. 

The first trace we can find in the magazine of these 
famous reunions is in the number for August, 1819, 
where a work on military matter is reviewed by two 
different critics while enjoying their evening glasses 
at Ambrose's. This was followed up next month by 
a paper which occupied the whole of the number, 
entitled " Christopher in the Tent " a sketch, sup- 
positious, of course, of a country expedition of the whole 
staff full of rollicking humour and uproarious fun, 
with etchings by Lockhart and jokes by all. 

In the following year, 1820, the first of Blackwood's 
really classic novels appeared in the magazine. This 
was the "Ayrshire Legatees," by John Gait ; and the 
editor, quick to perceive talent and eager to retain it, 
published in rapid succession a series of tales and 
sketches by the modern Smollet. 

This year, too, was an important one for both of 
the chief contributors. Lockhart, whose rising merits 
had long since attracted the attention of Scott, married 
the " Great Magician's favourite daughter ;" and Wil- 
son, to the terror of half Edinburgh, became a candi- 
date for the chair of Moral Philosophy at the 


University. Curious reports were spread of half true 
tales of youthful adventure, of bull-hunts by the 
shores of Windermere ; of cock-fights in his own 
drawing-room ; of a thousand escapades of one kind 
or another ; and these were capped by a rumour that 
he was not very sound in either religion or morals ; 
and even Tory counsellors shrunk from supporting a 
man who was said to be a fast liver and a free thinker. 
The Whigs started an excellent rival, Sir William 
'Hamilton, and the contest was very keen. "I wad 
like to gie ye ma vote, Mr. Wulson," said an Edin- 
burgh magistrate, " but I'm feared. They say ye 
dunna expect to be saved by grace." " I don't know 
much about that, baillie ; but if I am not saved by 
grace I am sure my works won't save me." " That'll 
do, that'll do ; I'll gie you my vote." Others were 
of a like mind, for Wilson was a man whom to know 
was to love, and the election was secured. 

Immediately after the election Wilson returned 
to Elleray to recruit ; and here an event happened 
which not only shows his natural impetuosity, but 
which might have been of very serious consequence, 
and, as a version of the story has recently appeared in 
" Barham's Life," it may not be altogether out of place 
to give the correct version here. 

Lord M r and three Oxford friends, one of 
whom had just been ordained, had started in their 
own coach upon a rollicking tour homewards ; their 
journey, even in those free-and-easy times, was 
marked by a blackguardism of conduct almost un- 

At York they halted for a few days few because 
the inhabitants would stand their presence no longer, 
and, after paying 150 for their hotel bills, and for 

14 2 


the Vandalism they had committed in the town, they 
drove on to Windermere, and put up at the Ferry 
Hotel. Here they stayed for nearly four days, dis- 
porting themselves like Yahoos. Wilson, as is well 
known, was " Admiral of the Windermere Fleet," 
and chanced, while they were in the neighbourhood, 
to hold a regatta, giving his friends a tea at Ullock's 
Hotel, Bowness, when the amusements of the day 
were over. 

Hither the travelling adventurers came by water ; 
at the landing stage, however, one of the number, 
seeing a fisherman washing his nets in the lake, crept 
behind him, and with a shove and a hoarse laugh sent 
him into the water. Westmoreland blood is not easily 
cooled, and the peasant, seizing his attacker, ducked 
him within an inch of his life. Nothing daunted the 
other three proceeded to the hotel, and entered a 
room where tea was laid out for a large party ; to 
knock the tray over, to pull the cloth off, to dance 
upon the tea-pot till it was flattened, and the crockery 
till it was smashed into a thousand smithereens, was, 
of course, only the work of an instant. Hearing the 
clatter, Mrs. Wilson hurried downstairs, and Lord 

M- r, mistaking her for the landlady, seized her 

by the neck, and tried to ravish a kiss. At this cri- 
tical moment the Professor entered one blow 
"from the shoulder" laid the noble lord at his feet; 
then, like a genuine old heathen warrior, placing one 
foot upon the neck of the prostrate wretch " if you 
other two scoundrels are not out of this room in an 
instant, I'll squeeze the man's breath out of his body." 
They heard and fled. Wilson, in a fury of excite- 
ment, took boat to Belle Isle, and urged Mr. Curwen 
to act as his friend, Mr, Curwen represented that 


Lord M r was utterly beneath contempt that no 

professor of moral philosophy had ever been engaged 
in a cause of honour ; that all his friends had been 
representing him as a quiet, orderly man in fact, 
brought forward a thousand arguments which might 
have been of the utmost weight to a reasonable being 
but not just at present to Wilson ; he flung out of 
the room, crossed the lake, and sought a gallant 

naval officer, Captain Br , who, a true Sir Lucius 

OTrigger, said the matter was in good hands, and 
looked up his pistols. They adjourned to Elleray to 
wait the expected challenge : but on the evening of 
the following day, getting tired of inaction, they set 
out on a drive to see why the storm did not com- 
mence. Further search was endless. Lord M r 

and his friends had taken to their coach and fled ; 
they could not, however, get their horses out of the 
stables until they had paid an hotel bill of 120 and 
20 to the landlord of Ullock's Hotel for damages. 
Thus the affair ended happily, and Wilson was able 
to return peaceably to Edinburgh to fulfil his new 

Few men ever undertook so important a charge 
with so little preparation." " But there was," says one 
who listened to him, " a genius in Wilson ; there was 
grandeur in his conceptions, and true nobility in the 
tone and spirit of his lectures. I can compare them 
to nothing save the braying of the trumpet that sent 
a body of high-bred cavalry against the foe. ' Charge ! 
and charge home !' Wilson's action upon the better 
and more pure-minded of his pupils was pre-emi- 
nently beneficial. His lectures deeply influenced 
their characters for humanity, for unselfishness, for 
high and honourable resolve to fight the battle of 


life; like the old Danish hero 'to dare nobly, to will, 
strongly, and never to falter in the path of duty.' 
Such was Wilson's creed; and, till 1850, when he 
was found stricken down in his private room, ten 
minutes after the class hour, he astonished and de- 
lighted all that was intellectual in Edinburgh by 
these, aptly termed, 'volcanic lectures on ethics.' " 

Much work, however, had to be gone through be- 
fore that date ; his private fortune had been lost some 
years back by the failure of a house of business, and 
he was one of those men whom, the more work is 
thrown on them the more they are able to go through 

In 1822 appeared the first specimen of his power as 
a novelist in the "Lights and Shadows of Scottish 
Life," which went rapidly through edition after edition ; 
and in the March of this year appeared also the first 
number of the Noctes Ambrosiance a curt dialogue 
between the editor and Ensign O'Doherty ; it was 
not for seventeen numbers that Wilson, almost sorry, 
commenced that wonderful series that became one of 
the literary wonders of the day ; and for thirteen 
years as Christopher North he continued to delight 
the world, and it is as Christopher North, in his 
shooting-jacket, with gun or fishing-rod, by the lochs 
or by the moors, amid the scenery which he has so 
marvellously limned, and the emotions to which he 
has given utterance, that he will be remembered to 
all time. 

In 1824 we see that Carlyle gets his first pleasant 
encouragement in Maga, and Moir's most famous 
production, the " Autobiography of Mansie Wauch," 
appears. Moir a young surgeon of only nineteen 
when he first appeared in the pages of the original 


Edinburgh Monthly Magazine had at once attracted 
the attention of William Blackwood "a man," says 
Moir's biographer, "of rare sagacity, courage, and 
persevering energy." As "Delta," in the pages of 
Maga, the popularity of Moir's softer and sweeter 
pieces was very great ; and when " Mansie" appeared, 
"there were districts," says Aird again, "where 
country clubs, waiting impatiently for the magazine, 
met monthly as soon as it was issued, and had ' Man- 
sie' read aloud by one of their number, amid ex- 
plosions of congregated laughter." 

Lockhart, too, had since his marriage been wielding 
his pen as freely as ever. "Valerius" and "Adam 
Blair " had both been successful ventures for Black- 
wood ; and were succeeded in 1822 by the "Spanish 
Ballads," which have so much of the true ring of 
original poetry about them, that Lockhart's friends 
always regretted that he did not devote his time more 
exclusively to the composition of some original poeti- 
cal work. In 1825 the editorship of the Quarterly 
was offered him, and Blackwood lost one of his 
earliest and strongest supporters. Shortly after this 
the other satirical spirit of the periodical Billy 
Maginn also moved southward. 

But Blackwood was too firmly established now to 
dread the loss of any single contributor save one. 
The famous Nodes were, in reality, only just com- 
mencing ; and there it is that the character of the 
Ettrick Shepherd most shines vicariously, however, 
for his popularity is chiefly due to the piquancy and 
vitality with which the genius of Wilson endowed 
him. Whatever is best in the national genius of 
Scotland, in humour, poetry, imagination, and fervour, 
are poured forth in the quaint and broad language of 


the Shepherd. But enough of the Nodes ; are they 
not still familiar volumes upon the tables of all who 
read ? 

This year (1826), in which Blackwood was at the 
height of his success, was fatal, as we have before 
seen, to Constable ; and with his failure disappeared 
for ever that rival to Maga, Constable's Edinburgh 
Monthly Magazine. 

In being thus minute in the history of the maga- 
zine, we can scarcely be said to be neglecting the 
history of its proprietor, for their careers were inex- 
tricably bound up together, and Blackwood looked 
upon it as a father might upon a darling son. In the 
exulting vanity of his success, he was induced, about 
1825, to print for private circulation, an alphabetical 
list of contributors, and sent Wilson a proof, who, by 
way of remonstrance, dashed in the names of such 
celebrities as Omai the Otaheitan, and Pius VII., 
with the names of some of the most egregious fools 
and mountebanks he had ever met with, and returned 
it to the printer, who duly furnished Blackwood with 
a revise ; and the absurd incongruity of the names 
showed him the incautious impropriety of which 
he had been guilty. Two impressions only were 
reserved, one for Blackwood and one for the pro- 

As an editor, the punctuality and alacrity with 
which he acknowledged the communications of his 
contributors was wonderful ; " and," says the " Old 
Contributor," " along with the mail coach copy of the 
magazine, or by an early post after its publication, 
came a letter to each contributor, full of shrewd hints 
for his future guidance, and often, not merely suggest- 
ing the subject for a future paper, but indicating with 


delicate hesitation the mode in which he fancied it 
might be discussed with the best advantage. . . . The 
' pudding ' was invariably associated with praise. At 
the head or foot of the welcome missive was a cheque 
for your article, the amount of which was not carved 
and patted like a pound of butter, into exact weight, 
but measured with no penurious hand. . . . He hated 
a cockney as Johnson hated a Scotsman, and con- 
sidered all writers on this side the border, who did 
not contribute to Maga, as falling within this cate- 

In 1827, Blackwood brought out two books, which 
were alike only in achieving, each of them, a vast 
popularity. One was " The Youth and Manhood of 
Cyril Thornton," by Captain Hamilton, and the 
other " The Course of Time," by Pollok, a Scottish, 
if not a British, classic. The Edinburgh Encyclopedia 
was continued till its final completion in eighteen 
quarto volumes, and not the least important of his 
publishing successes was the reproduction of the 
chief distinct works of Wilson, Lockhart, Hogg, 
Moir, Gait, and other writers connected with the 
magazine. He also continued to the close of his 
career, to carry on an extensive trade in retail book- 

In addition to these heavy labours, he still found 
opportunity during some of the best years of his life 
to take a prominent part in the affairs of the city of 
Edinburgh, for which he was twice a magistrate, 
" and in that capacity," says Lockhart, " distinguished 
himself by an intrepid zeal in the reform of burgh 
management, singularly in contrast with his avowed 
sentiments respecting constitutional reform." Here 
he often exhibited in the conduct of debate and the 


management of less vigorous minds, a very rare 
degree of tact and sagacity. 

To return to the magazine. After Lockhart and 
Maginn left Edinburgh, the bitterly personal tone by 
which it had been so frequently disfigured, was almost 
entirely dropped ; and this negative fact, aided by 
the positive one of the great popularity of the Noctes, 
raised the circulation immensely. 

In 1826, an early Elleray friend of Wilson's, De 
Quincey, "the opium-eater," began to discourse of 
things German in the pages of Maga ; and in 1830, 
the "Diary of a Late Physician" was commenced. 
This, one of the most successful works of modern 
fiction, had, Warren tells us, " been offered succes- 
sively to the conductors of three leading magazines in 
London, and rejected as ' unsuitable for their pages,' 
and ' not likely to interest the public.' ... I have 
this morning been referring to nearly fifty letters 
which he (Blackwood) wrote to me during the publi- 
cation of the first fifteen chapters of his * Diary.' The 
perusal of them occasioned me lively emotion. All 
of them evidence the remarkable tact and energy 
with which he conducted his magazine. . . . He was 
a man of strong intellect, of great personal sagacity, 
of unrivalled energy and industry, of high and in- 
flexible honour in every transaction, great or small, 
that I ever heard of his being concerned in." 

Contemporary with the publication of the " Diary," 
was that of the successful books "Tom Cringle's 
Log" and "Sir Frizzle Pumpkin's Nights at Mess," 
the first by Michael Scott, and the second by the 
Reverend Mr. White. In May, 1832, appeared Wil- 
son's review of Mr. Tennyson's first volume ; in which 
the affectations of Mr. Tennyson's earlier writings 


were ridiculed, but his more worthy pieces were 
praised in no niggardly terms. At the moment Mr. 
Tennyson was irritated, but his anger soon evapor- 
ated in some not very pungent lines to " Rusty, Crusty 
Christopher," which he has long since seen fit to sup- 
press ; and, eventually, he exhibited a due acknow- 
ledgment of the truth of Wilson's criticism, by re- 
moving several pieces and altering others. " Stoddart 
and Aytoun," writes Wilson in this same review, " he 
of the ' Death Wake' and he of 'Poland,' are gra- 
ciously regarded by old Christopher ; and their 
volume presentation copies have been placed 
among the essays of those gifted youths, of whom, in 
riper years, much may be confidently predicted of 
fair and good " a sentence worth quoting, when it is 
remembered that Aytoun afterwards married Wilson's 
daughter, and in a few years occupied his position in 
the pages of Maga itself. 

In 1833, Blackwood was still full of schemes and 
enterprises ; he commenced the publication of Alison's 
" History of Europe." Only the first two volumes 
were published, and then not altogether successfully, 
when Blackwood was stricken down by a mortal 
disease, a tumour in the groin, which, in a weary ill- 
ness of four months, exhausted his physical energies, 
but left his temper calm and unruffled, and his intellect 
vigorous to the last. He was attended by Moir the 
sweet-toned "Delta" of his magazine who had another 
dying patient scarce a hundred yards off. This was 
Gait, who had been personally estranged from Black- 
wood by rough advice and strictures as to one of his 
stories. Now, however, that they lay dying so near 
each to each, the old friendliness returned, and Moir 
bore pleasant messages and hopeful wishes from one 


bedside to another. They never met again. Gait 
lingered on for years, but Blackwood died on the loth 
of September, 1834, in the fifty-seventh year of his 

We have already given his character as described 
by those who knew him best, and it were idle to add 
any weaker testimony. 

He left a widow and a family of seven sons and two 
daughters, many of them very yourig ; and the 
management of the business devolved upon the two 
elder, Robert and Alexander, who had for some 
years been associated with their father. 

Until 1845, these gentlemen were at the head of 
the flourishing business, and with such a start they 
could not fail to succeed. The magazine, in spite of 
all rivals, continued to be as great a favourite as ever, 
though in a year or so after the death of the elder 
Blackwocd, Wilson withdrew almost entirely from its 
pages, and his position was eventually occupied by 
his son-in-law, Professor Aytoun. Many new con- 
tributors, without distinction of sect or party, were 
added to the staff; and even Douglas Jerrold and 
Walter Savage Landor ultra-radicals, both were 
made free of its pages. John Sterling, " our new con- 
tributor," as Wilson fondly called him, fully retained 
the old reputation for deftciously sparkling poems and 
essays ; and Lord Lytton, in the " Poems and Ballads 
of Schiller," kept alive the cosmopolitan spirit of 
poetry inaugurated by Lockhart. In 1845, Alex- 
ander Blackwood died, and was shortly afterwards 
followed by his brother, when John, the third son, the 
present proprietor of the business and the present 
editor of Blackiuood, who was born in 1818, succeeded. 
So popular had Maga become in the colonies, and 


more especially in the United States, that a reprint 
of it was regularly published there every month. Mr. 
John Blackvvood took counsel with the American 
lawyers, obtained an American contributor, and then 
threatened the Yankee publisher with all the terrors 
of the law, if the number were pirated as usual a 
successful step, for ever since that date a tribute tithe 
has been regularly paid for the right of republication. 
A branch house was started in London ; the firm was 
also increased by the return from India of William 
Blackwood, who was a major in the Indian army. 

In 1848 Lord Lytton commenced the " Caxtons," 
and novel after novel from his pen appeared in 
Maga to be anonymously successful even to the 
day of his death. For a period of twenty-five 
years, some of the finest novels and life-pictures in 
the language have made their first way to public 
favour through the medium of the magazine ; and 
Mrs. Oliphant and George Eliot owed their first 
encouragement to the discernment of Mr. John 
Blackwood. That Maga is still facile princeps of 
the monthly literature is evident enough even from a 
bare mention of latest ventures, from the talent of 
"Earl's Dene" and the wit of the " Battle of Dorking." 
Alison's " History of Europe " very soon proved its 
worth in the eyes of 'the public ; and among other 
more recent successes of the house we may mention 
the novels of George Eliot, particularly " Middle- 
marsh," which came out in an altogether novel form. 

As we shall not have another chance of returning to 

modern magazine literature, we may not inappropriately 

close the chapter with a short account of one or two 

of the most successful of the high-class publications. 

It was not to be expected that the marvellous sue- 


cess of Blackwood s Edinburgh Magazine would be 
allowed to pass unchallenged. The honour as well 
as the fortunes of the Southron publishers forbade it. 
In 1820, the London Magazine, a name borrowed from 
an old and defunct periodical, was established by 
Baldwin, Craddock, and Joy, under the editorship of 
John Scott, formerly of the Champion newspaper. 
Many men of talent joined the staff, but Scott's old 
colleague, Wainwright, afterwards infamous as the 
insurance murderer, aided and abetted his chief in a 
series of very offensive personal articles. In two or 
three of them a fierce attack was made upon Sir 
Walter Scott, as being a mere pretender to the author- 
ship of the Waverley Novels (which, as Scott was 
doing his utmost to hide his light under a bushel, was 
scarcely called for) ; and in addition to this the writers 
made an onslaught on all who were supposed to be 
connected with Blackwood or his magazine. Lock- 
hart, with all the sensitiveness of your true satirist, 
called immediately for an apology, and was evaded by 
a demand that he should first disavow his connection 
with Blackwood. This was out of the question, and 
Mr. Christie, to whom Lockhart had entrusted 
negotiations, feeling that Scott was shuffling, and that 
he himself was being trifled with, let drop some ex- 
pressions on his own account calculated to give 
offence. A meeting was arranged. Christie fired 
down the field, but Scott, not perceiving this, aimed 
deliberately at his opponent, but missed his mark. 
Christie, seeing his adversary again prepare to fire in 
his direction, did not a second time waste his powder, 
and the result was that Scott was mortally wounded. 

Dreadful as was the catastrophe, and the sensation 
it made at the time, it tended to soften the asperities 


of the press, and was instrumental in bringing a better 
spirit to critical discussion. 

After Mr. Scott's death, the proprietorship of the 
London Magazine was transferred to Taylor and 
H essay, the poetical publishers. The first of these 
gentlemen was the original proclaimer of Francis as 
the author of the " Letters of Junius ;" the second 
will ever be remembered for his kindliness to John 
Keats. Mindful of the success of Blackwood, they 
retained the editorship in their own hands, and, again 
like him, were most liberal in their payments a 
pound a page for prose, and two pounds for verse, 
was the honarium of ordinary contributors ; Charles 
Lamb receiving, very fitly, two or three times that 
amount. It is Charles Lamb's name that is now most 
intimately connected with the London Magazine, for 
here it was that the famous " Essays of Elia " first 
appeared. Among the other contributors we find 
many celebrated names ; Hazlitt furnished all the 
articles upon the drama, Mr. Carlyle contributed the 
"Life and Writings of Schiller" to the last three 
volumes, and here De Quincey first published his 
" Confessions of an English Opium-Eater," filled with 
the weirdest fancies and the loveliest word-pictures in 
our literature. Here, too, Tom Hood fleshed his 
maiden sword ; and among the other writers we find 
the names of Keats, Landor, Hartley Coleridge, Barry 
Cornwall, and Bowring. Such an array of talent did 
not, however, avail, without steady editorial skill, to 
win a wide popularity, and in 1825 the publication 
was suspended. 

We have seen that Maginn had accompanied Lock- 
hart to the south. In 1827 the Standard newspaper 
was founded, and he was installed in the editorial 


chair, where for some seven or eight years he drew 
500 a year. His unrivalled facility in dashing off 
slashing articles upon any subject, quickly raised his 
income to eighteen or nineteen hundred ; but his 
ever-increasing habits of intemperance rendered regu- 
larity of work impossible, Together with Lockhart 
and other writers, he planned a London monthly rival 
to Blackwood) and in 1829 an East India merchant of 
the name of Fraser was found willing to make the 
necessary advances, and Fraser s Magazine was 
started. An editor was kept to correct the proofs, 
and to go to prison, as occasion might require ; but 
Maginn contributed a large proportion of the first 
three numbers, and was virtually the manager. Hogg, 
who, as Wilson said, had made a perfect stye of 
every magazine in the kingdom, was invited up to 
town. Its rollicking tone, untempered by any genuine 
humour, was wo fully overdone, and smacked of the 
reeking laughter of the pothouse. Maginn, having no 
one to direct his shafts, attacked every one right and 
left, and selected a series of literary and political butts 
for continuous practice, among whom were Professor 
Wilson, Tom Campbell, and Lord Ellesmere, who 
were insulted in the most audacious manner ; and 
language and criticism like this gave constant rise to 
cudgellings, law-suits, and duels. Maginn, however, 
had plenty of courage was as reckless with his pistol 
as his pen. Captain Berkeley having called at the 
office, seen Fraser, and horsewhipped him for a libel, 
was challenged by the writer of it Maginn who, 
sobered down for the moment, stood his fire for three 
rounds with the utmost nonchalance. In spite of the 
humour of Thackeray and the philosophy of Carlyle, 
lately admitted to its pages, Fraser's Magazine was 


commercially not successful until Maginn and Hogg 
were banished from the staff. When, however, it got 
into better hands, and led a cleanlier life, an ample 
field was found for its circulation. 

Thackeray, whom we mentioned above, was instru- 
mental in effecting a thorough change in periodical 
literature. When under his direction, the Cornhill 
was started, to give for a shilling all that had before 
been given for two shillings and sixpence, the book- 
selling world was incredulous of success, and the book- 
buying world scarcely hopeful. More than 100,000 
copies of the first number were sold, and as soon as it 
was seen that a vastly wide-spread circulation is 
infinitely more valuable than a narrower sphere at a 
much higher rate, a crowd of other shilling magazines 
were produced, among which it is enough to mention 
Temple Bar, London Society, Macmillaii s, Belgravia, 
and a score of others, some of which were doubtless 
successful, but many more or less ephemeral. One 
detrimental fact has of course arisen from such a 
multiplicity of organs ; the available talent of the day, 
such as it is, cannot now be concentrated. The same 
curse haunts the theatre; at present one "star" is as 
much as the greediest can expect on one stage. 



"\ \ J"E have already seen, in our short sketches of the 
Bells, the Cookes, the Donaldsons, and the 
Constables, some endeavour neither faint nor alto- 
gether unsuccessful, yet not more than a trial venture, 
for education was still a monopoly of rank and riches 
to render books the property and the birthright of 
the people. In our present chapter, however, we come 
to a new phase in the history of bookselling. The 
schoolmaster, as Brougham said, was abroad ; the 
repressive taxes on knowledge either were, or were 
about to be, removed ; learning, or a smattering of 
learning, was within the reach of most. The battle of 
future progress was to be fought out with the pen, 
just as the triumphs of early civilization had been 
achieved with the lance and with the sword. The 
public writer henceforth was to occupy the preacher's 
pulpit, and his congregation, far above the limits of 
any St. Peter's or St. Paul's, was to be told only by 
millions. Books were to be no longer the curious 
luxuries of the rich man's library, or the hoarded and 


hardly-earned treasures of the student's closet, but 
were to be fairly placed at the disposal of the many. 

Talent certainly, if not genius, is only the product 
of the requirements of the time and place ; and as 
soon, therefore, as cheap books were in real request, 
men thoroughly competent and thoroughly earnest 
came forward to supply the want fighting bravely, 
with all the strong energy of their wills, to do the 
work that each had chosen, and yet each as certainly 
acted upon invisibly, insensibly, and inevitably, 
by the true, if word-worn, laws of supply and de- 

The means by which this end was to be attained 
were many, and the labourers in the new fields of 
cheap literature numerous ; but in our present chapter, 
as elsewhere, we have selected the representative men 
and the typical means. The names of Chambers. 
Knight, and Cassell (the latter certainly in a less 
degree) are inextricably woven into the movement, of 
which at present we have only seen the commence- 
ment ; and the plan by which the most expensive 
treasures of literature, the choicest garnerings of our 
knowledge, were placed at the disposal of the meagrest 
purse, was almost universally that of distribution into 
small weekly or monthly parts, at an infinitesimal 
cost a method that may with justice be styled the 
people's intellectual savings bank ; and it is to the 
early history of the people's intellectual savings bank 
that we now address ourselves.* 

Robert Chambers was born at Peebles, on the banks 

* This sketch was written before the publication of Mr. W. 
Chambers's life of his brother, but has been revised in accordance with 
that interesting memoir, 



of the Tweed, on loth July, 1802, two years later 
than his brother William, with whom his whole career 
is intimately connected. They were the sons of 
James Chambers, at one time a prosperous muslin 
weaver, employing some hundred looms. Their 
father is described as " a lover of books, a keen poli- 
tician, and an open-hearted friend ;" but having 
already been generous beyond his means to the poor 
French prisoners in Scotland, he was completely 
ruined by the introduction of machine- weaving looms, 
and was compelled to sell his modest patrimony, and 
remove with his family to Edinburgh, with only a 
few shillings in his pocket on which to start life afresh. 
But before this the young lads' education had com- 
menced. At Peebles there were certainly no news- 
papers ; but their old nurse sung ballads and told 
them legendary stories of the former exploits of the 
warriors of the country side ; and then there was old 
Tarn Fleck, a host in himself, who had struck out a 
wandering profession of his own, a " flichty chield," 
who went about with a translation of Josephus 
(Lestrange, 1720) from house to house. " Weel, Tarn, 
what's the news the nicht ?" would one of the neigh- 
bours say, as Tarn entered with the ponderous volume 
under his arm. " Bad news, bad news/' replied Tarn. 
" Titus has begun to besiege Jerusalem it's gaun to 
be a terrible business." At the little village school, 
too, William was introduced to Latin for the fee of 
five shillings a quarter, and Robert was well grounded 
by Mr. Gray in English for two shillings and twopence. 
Robert was a quiet, self-contained boy, unable from a 
painful weakness in his feet to join heartily in the 
usual games of his schoolfellows. " Books," he writes 
in the preface to his collected works, " not playthings, 

Dr. Robert Chambers, 



filled my hands in childhood. At twelve I was deep, 
not only in poetry and fiction, but in encyclopaedias." 
Receiving his first education at the Burgh Grammar 
School, he acquired afterwards, at the Edinburgh 
High School, under the tuition of Mr. Benjamin 
Mackay, the usual elements of a classical education, 
embracing, indeed, as much Latin as enabled him in 
after-life to read Horace with ease and pleasure. 

After months of pence-scraping and book-hoarding, 
Robert succeeded in collecting a stock worth about 
forty shillings ; and with nothing but these, his yearn- 
ing for independence, and his determination to write 
books by-and-by, and at present to sell them, the 
young boy of sixteen opened a little shop or stall in 
Leith Street. His brother William, after serving an 
apprenticeship to a Mr. Sutherland, also started as a 
bookseller and printer in the immediate neighbour- 
hood ; and from this time forward a time when most 
boys were cursing the master's ferule and the Latin 
syntax they were both independent. Of this period 
Robert gives the following graphic and almost pain- 
fully accurate account in a letter to Hugh Miller, 
written in 1854 : 

" Your autobiography has set me a thinking of my 
own youthful days, which were like yours in point of 
hardship and humiliation, though different in many 
important circumstances. My being of the same age 
with you, to exactly a quarter of a year, brings the 
idea of a certain parity more forcibly upon me. The 
differences are as curious to me as the resemblances. 
Notwithstanding your wonderful success as a writer, 
I think my literary tendency must have been a deeper 
and more absorbing peculiarity than yours, seeing 


that I took to Latin and to books both keenly and 
exclusively, while you broke down in your classical 
course, and had fully as great a passion for rough 
sport and enterprise as for reading, that being again 
a passion of which I never had one particle. This 
has, however, resulted in making you, what I never 
was inclined to be, a close observer of external nature 
an immense advantage in your case. Still I think 
I could present against your hardy field observations 
by frith and fell, and cave and cliff, some striking 
analogies in the finding out and devouring of books, 
making my way, for instance, through a whole chestful 
of the " Encyclopaedia Britannica," which I found in a 
lumber garret. I must also say that an unfortunate 
tenderness of feet, scarcely yet got over, had much to 
do in making me mainly a fireside student. As to 
domestic connections and conditions, mine being of 
the middle classes were superior to yours for the first 
twelve years. After that, my father being unfortu- 
nate in business, we were reduced to poverty, and 
came down to even humbler things than you ex- 
perienced. I passed through some years of the direst 
hardship, not the least evil being a state of feeling 
quite unnatural in youth, a stern and burning defiance 
of a social world in which we were harshly and coldly 
treated by former friends, differing only in external 
respects from ourselves. In your life there is one 
crisis where I think your experiences must have been 
somewhat like mine ; it is the brief period at Inver- 
ness. Some of your expressions there bring all my 
own early feelings again to life. A disparity between 
the internal consciousness of powers and accomplish- 
ments and the external ostensible aspect led in me 
to the very same wrong methods of setting myself 


forward as in you. There, of course, I meet you in 
warm sympathy. I have sometimes thought of de- 
scribing my bitter painful youth to the world, as 
something in which it might read a lesson ; but the 
retrospect is still too distressing. I screen it from the 
mental eye. The one grand fact it has impressed is 
the very small amount of brotherly assistance there 
is for the unfortunate in this world. . . . Till I proved 
that I could help myself, no friend came to me. 
Uncles, cousins, &c., in good positions in life some 
of them stoops of kirks, by-the-by not one offered, 
nor seemed inclined to give, the smallest assistance. 
The consequent defying, self-relying spirit in which, 
at sixteen, I set out as a bookseller with only my own 
small collection of books as a stock not worth more 
than two pounds, I believe led to my being quickly 
independent of all aid ; but it has not been all a gain, 
for I am now sensible that my spirit of self-reliance 
too often manifested itself in an unsocial, unamiable 
light, while my recollections of ' honest poverty ' may 
have made me too eager to attain and secure worldly 

This period of struggle, however, opened his heart 
in after-life to all who were battling in like circum- 
stances, for those who knew him well say that " many 
young literary men owed much to his help, for he 
was ever ready with kindly counsel as well as in more 
solid assistance when needed." It is pleasant to 
think that his little ciphering book, still in existence 
(the handwriting of which is extremely neat, so neat 
indeed that the young penman was employed by the 
civic authorities to engross on vellum the address 
presented to George IV. on his visit to Edinburgh in 
1822), containing his first year's account of profit and 


loss, shows a balance small, certainly, but amply 
sufficient for his modest wants, for their united daily 
household expenses did not exceed one shilling. 

Once a bookseller, Robert speedily found oppor- 
tunity to become an author, and he undertook the 
editorship of a small weekly periodical called the 
Kaleidoscope ; while his brother William, in order to 
do all the manual work connected with it, taught him- 
self the art of printing, and with an old" fount of type, 
and a clumsy wooden press, which he had purchased 
for three pounds, composed and worked off all the 
impressions ; his own contributions, some of them 
poetical, " finding their way into the stick without 
the intervention of copy." Here he was often seen, 
" a slim, light-eyed boy in his shirt-sleeves, tugging 
away with desperate energy at his old creaking press." 
When his very small and imperfect fount was inade- 
quate to the demand for larger letters, he would sit 
up, after his long day's labour for half the night, 
carving the requisite capitals out of a piece of wood 
with his penknife. This first venture was necessarily 
short-lived, and died in the January of the year 1822 
at which date they both gave up their bookstalls 
and took regular shops. 

Nothing daunted by the untimely fate of his first 
effort, Robert entered the field again, and from his 
connection with the Tweed, and with the assistance 
of friends from that quarter, who aided him in the 
identification of some of Scott's characters, he produced 
a book that seemed likely to be popular " Illustra- 
tions of the Author of Waverley," consisting of de- 
scriptive sketches of the supposed originals of the 
great novelist. The book was a success, not so much 
from a pecuniary point of view, but as introducing 


the author to the kindly notice of several literary men, 
and gaining him the friendship of Scott, still the 
anonymous " Wizard of the North," who mentions 
him in his diary as " a clever young fellow, but spoils 
himself by too much haste." 

In the following year, when he was still only twenty 
years of age, he produced the " Traditions of Edin- 
burgh " a book that is, of his many contributions to 
the social and antiquarian history of his native land, 
still, perhaps, the most popular. Every type of it 
was set up, every sheet of it pulled at press, by his 
brother, and the first edition, dated 1823, presents a 
curious contrast to the handsome copy published in 
1869. The Traditions was a book the immediate 
popularity of which raised the author in public esteem, 
though its value is greater still at the present day, 
when many of the interesting associations connected 
with scenes and places are rapidly changing their 
character, or have been swept away altogether. Others 
than Scott even then expressed their wonder " where 
the boy got all his information." In a sketch of 
Robert Chambers, by the son of one of his earliest 
friends, that appeared in Lippincotfs Magazine for 
July, 1871, an amusingly frank letter is quoted, which 
shows that the young writer was already getting into 
the " swim " of authorship : " You may depend upon 
a copy of the ' Traditions of Edinburgh,' and a review 
of them as soon as they are ready. I am busy just 
now in writing reviews of them myself, for the various 
works I can get them put into, being now come to a 
resolution that an author always undertakes his own 
business best, and is indeed the only person capable 
of doing his work justice. I stood too much upon 
punctilio in my maiden work, the ' Illustrations/ and 


left the review of it to fellows who knew nothing 
about the subject, at least had not yet thought of it 
half so much as I had, who was quite aufait with the 
whole matter." 

From this period Robert Chambers' books were 
marketable productions, and publishers began to seek 
out the young author. On the occasion of the great 
fires in November, 1824, when hundreds of poor 
families were rendered destitute, having no money 
wherewith to aid the victims, he wrote an account of 
the historical " Fires in Edinburgh," and assigned the 
profits, which were considerable, to the fund collected 
for the benefit of the sufferers ; and from this time 
books flowed from his pen in rapid succession. In 
1825, he composed, for a bookseller, his "Popular 
Walks in Edinburgh," partly the result of rambles in 
the nooks and corners of the quaint old city, in com- 
pany with Sir Walter Scott. In 1826, he published 
his " Popular Rhymes of Scotland," and then started 
on foot, as if to cure his ailment by pedestrianism, on 
a rambling journey through the country, and pub- 
lished the result of his explorations in his " Pictures 
of Scotland," which passed through several editions, 
and is still a lively companion to the tourist. In this 
same year, 1827, he contributed to Constable's Mis- 
cellany the five volumes containing his " Histories of 
the Scottish Rebellion" of which, that concerning 
the affairs of 1845, while true to facts, had all the 
glowing charms of a romance and a " Life of James 
I.," in two volumes. Next appeared three volumes of 
" Scottish Ballads and Songs," followed by a " Bio- 
graphical Dictionary of Eminent Scotsmen " the four 
volumes being commenced in 1832 and concluded in 
1835 one of the most trustworthy and most enter- 


taining books of reference in existence. A supple- 
mentary and fifth volume was afterwards added by 
the Reverend Thomas Thomson. Besides writing 
these various works, and giving some attention to his 
ordinary business, he found time to act as editor of 
the Edinburgh Advertiser. 

In 1829, Robert Chambers married Miss Anne 
Kirkwood, of Edinburgh, a lady of very congenial 
qualities and attainments, and whose musical accom- 
plishments constantly supplied him after his heavy 
daily labours with the recreation essential to one so 
passionately fond of music. 

William Chambers was toiling away busily in his 
little shop in the Broughton suburb writing, printing, 
and selling books. After some minor efforts at 
authorship, he wrote the " Book of Scotland," giving 
an account of the legal constitution and customs 
of his native country. This was followed by the 
"Gazetteer of Scotland," written in conjunction with his 
brother, which, from the then scanty printed material 
at their disposal, must have cost them an immensity 
of labour. 

In 1832 came the turning point of the cause of the 
two brothers. The struggle for parliamentary reform 
had awakened a necessity for the spread of education. 
The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge 
had already been doing good service to the cause, 
with Lord Brougham as its president, and Charles 
Knight as its manager. And on the 4th of February, 
1832, appeared the first number of Chambers' Edin- 
burgh Journal. Mr. William Chambers has himself, 
in a letter to the editor of the AtJtenceum (April 1st, 
1871), replied to a statement in a former number, that 
upon seeing a copy of the prospectus of the Penny 


Magazine, he put forward several suggestions to one of 
the chief promoters, and that his self-love being 
wounded by receiving no reply to his letter, he de- 
termined to realize his unappreciated ideas himself. 
The following, in his own letter, is, of course, the 
accurate history of the origin of the periodical. 

" In the beginning of January, 1832, I conceived 
the idea of a cheap weekly periodical devoted to 
wholesome popular instruction, blended" with original 
amusing matter, without any knowledge whatever of 
the prospectus- of the Penny Magazine, or even hear- 
ing that such a thing was in contemplation. My 
periodical was to be entitled Chambers' Edinburgh 
Journal, and the first number was to appear on the 
4th of February. In compliment to Lord Brougham 
as an educationist, I forwarded to him a copy of my 
prospectus, with a note explaining the nature of my 
attempt to aid as far as I was able in the great cause 
with which his name was identified. To this com- 
munication I received no acknowledgment, but no 
self-love was wounded. My work was successful, and 
I was too busy to give any consideration as to what 
his lordship thought of it, if he thought of it at all. 
The first time I heard of the projected Penny Maga- 
zine was about a month after the Journal was set on 
foot and in general circulation." 

The success of the new Journal \v&$ unprecedented ; 
it immediately obtained a circulation of 50,000, and 
by 1845, when the folio, after a trial of the quarto, 
was exchanged for the octavo form, 90,000 copies 
were required to supply the demand. Started six 
weeks before the Penny Magazine, it is still the most 
successful and the most instructive of the cheap 
hebdomadal periodicals. At the very first flush of 


success, Robert Chambers' assistance was called in as 
editor, and in a short time the brothers finally entered 
into partnership as publishers ; and their triumphs 
were henceforth achieved conjointly " both of them," 
says an able writer in an old number of the Dublin 
University Magazine, " trained to habits of business 
and punctuality ; both of them upheld in all their 
dealings by strict prudence and conscientiousness ; 
and both of them practised, according to their dif- 
ferent aims and tendencies, in literary labour." 

Seldom, if ever, have two members of a publishing 
firm been so admirably fitted for their business. 

From the very outset the brothers were thrown 
entirely on their own resources ; they had no literary 
jealousy, and eagerly enlisted on their staff most of 
the young aspirants in Scotland, who have since 
achieved a world-wide reputation. It was, however, 
to Mr. Robert Chambers' contributions that the 
Journal was primarily indebted for success, his de- 
lightful essays, aesthetic and humorous, permanently 
fixing the work in public esteem. Gifted with a 
keenly-accurate observation, with a grave yet kindly 
humour, his vignettes of life and character, under the 
nom de plume of Mr. Baldestone, were so truthful 
and so " telling," that they met with a very favourable 
reception, when republished separately, in seven 
volumes, in 1844. "It was my design," he says in 
the preface, " from the first, to be the essayist of the 
middle class that in which I was born and to which 
I continue to belong. I, therefore, do not treat their 
manners and habits as one looking de haut en bas, 
which is the usual style of essayists, but as one look- 
ing round among the firesides of my friends." This 
was, doubtless, the primary secret of their success, j 


When Leigh Hunt, in 1834, established his London 
Journal, he announced that he intended to follow the 
plan of Chambers' Edinburgh Journal, " with a more 
southern element " added. This compliment, from a 
veteran so famous and so experienced, led to an 
interchange of editorial courtesies, in the course of 
which Robert Chambers claimed the distinction for 
his brother William which had been somewhere 
awarded to Leigh Hunt of having been the first to 
introduce cheap periodical literature of a superior 
class. Leigh Hunt, in reply, while upholding his own 
title to priority by the indubitable evidence of the 
dates of his Indicator, Tatler, &c., cordially admitted 
that his young rivals had more wisely achieved the 
desired end by interesting a wider and less educated 

In a few years all Edinburgh proved to be equal 
only to produce the Scotch edition of the Journal, a 
branch house was established in the English metro- 
polis, the command of which was entrusted to a 
younger brother, Mr. David Chambers, who was born 
in the year 1820, and who was afterwards taken into 
partnership. Unlike his brothers, he had little taste 
for literature. In connection with the subsequent 
conduct of the Journal, we may mention the names 
of T. Smibert and Leich Ritchie (both deceased), and 
Mr. W. H. Wills, and Mr. James Payn, the sensational 
novelist, who for many years has had the leading 

In 1844, Robert Chambers published a work written 
in conjunction with Dr. Carruthers, afterwards greatly 
enlarged, which takes a far higher rank than any pre- 
ceding compilation of a similar character. This was 
Chambers' "Cyclopaedia of English Literature," in 


which no less than 832 authors are treated critically 
and biographically, specimens of their most charac- 
teristic writings being quoted in addition, From the 
intrinsic value of the contents, and the marvellous 
cheapness of the price, a great popularity was attained, 
and in a few years 130,000 copies were sold in Eng- 
land alone, while in America it was at least as popular. 

Among his other works at this period we may 
mention a labour of love a chronological edition of 
Burns' poems, so arranged with a connecting narrative 
as to serve also as a biography. The proceeds of the 
sale went towards securing a comfortable fortune for 
the poet's sister. We must mention, also, in passing, 
" The Domestic Annals of Scotland," and a dainty 
little volume of verse, printed for private circulation 
only, in 1835. 

A book appeared about this time entitled, "Ves- 
tiges of the Natural History of Creation," which was 
written to prove that the Divine Governor of this 
world conducts its passing affairs by a fixed rule, 
termed natural law. The orthodox party professed 
to be alarmed at the temerity of the writer, and by 
them the book was hailed with contumely. It was 
known that the proof sheets had passed through the 
hands of Mr. Robert Chambers, and on no better 
authority than this, not only did the public believe the 
story, but the " Vestiges " was entered in the catalogue 
of the British Museum under his name. A writer in 
the Critic boldly stated, " on eminent authority," that 
George Combe was the author, and though this was 
contradicted, and though the authorship is still a 
mystery, it would appear that Combe had, at all 
events, something to do with the work. In 1848, 
Robert Chambers was selected to be Lord Provost of 


Edinburgh ; he was requested to deny the authorship, 
but his refusal to plead, and his consequent retire- 
ment, were probably due to his contempt for people 
who could make the authorship of a book a barrier 
to civic honours. His brother William, however, 
afterwards filled the office with such satisfaction to his 
fellow-citizens, that he was re-elected, after serving 
the prescribed term of three years. 

Many of Robert Chambers's earliest essays in his 
Journal had been upon geology, and to this branch 
of science he became more and more addicted, and as 
a geologist and antiquarian he turned to good account 
a somewhat extensive course of foreign travel. In 
1848 he visited Switzerland; in 1849 Sweden and 
Norway ; and in later years Iceland and the Faroe 
Isles, Canada, and the United States. One of the 
results of these travels was a volume on "Ancient 
Sea Margins" containing a new theory, that had pre- 
viously been propounded by him in a paper read be- 
fore the " British Association," and had attracted no 
little attention. 

To supplement what their Journal could not supply 
to the reading public, he and his brother also wrote, 
with not very much assistance, and, of course pub- 
lished, " Information for the People," " Papers for the 
People," and a series of miscellaneous tracts : 200,000 
of the first named are said to have been sold. 

During all this hard work Robert Chambers helped 
to conduct one of the largest printing and publishing 
concerns in Scotland. One of the chiefest triumphs 
of the brothers was " Chambers's Educational Course/' 
an educational project so complete that few men 
could have ever hoped to realize it. This series be- 
gins with a three-halfpenny infant primer, and goes 


onward through a whole library of grammars, dic- 
tionaries, histories, scientific, and all primary class 
books, and cheap editions of standard foreign and 
classical authors, till it culminates in a popular " En- 
cyclopaedia" in ten thick volumes. This "Encyclo- 
paedia" was originally founded on the " German Con- 
versations' Lexicon," but the articles were in all cases 
either rewritten or thoroughly revised. It admirably 
supplies the wants of those readers for whom the 
"Penny Encyclopaedia" was in the first instance 
devised, before its expansion into the present more 
expensive form. 

Literary honours fell fast upon Robert Chambers. 
He enjoyed the rare distinction of being nominated 
into the Athenseum Club by its committee of man- 
agement, and was elected a member of many 
scientific societies ; and finally the University of St. 
Andrews conferred on him the degree of Doctor of 

In 1 864 appeared his first real work, the " Book 
of Days," but the success that attended it was dearly 
bought. He had found it necessary to reside for 
some years in London, in order to avail himself of 
the inexhaustible treasures of the British Museum, 
but on his return to Scotland he was often heard to 
say "that book is my death-blow." His nervous 
system was shattered, and literary labour was at an 
end. After the completion of seventy volumes, and 
innumerable articles, compelling almost incessant 
mental effort for five-and-forty years, the over- 
worked brain at last demanded repose. The de- 
scendants of Smollett, the novelist, offered him the 
use of some hitherto untouched family documents, 
and he was tempted once more to essay the long- 



loved task of composition ; the volume was printed 
in 1867, and is said to bear painful marks of the un- 
due strain from which his mind had suffered. 

The very last years of his life were spent at St. 
Andrews, where on March i/th, 1871, he died, saying, 
" Quite comfortable quite happy nothing more !" 
leaving a family of nine children, one of whom, Mr. 
Robert Chambers, has for some time been a partner 
in the firm. His second wife (his first had died in 
1863) did not survive him. 

Few men have worked so hard as Robert Cham- 
bers ; his life, busy in its threefold capacity of author, 
editor, and publisher, can scarcely have known an 
unprofitable hour ; few men frave worked so well, for 
not a line that he has written, not a book that he has 
published, but has tended in some way to the educa- 
tion and social improvement of the people ; and few 
men have reaped such an honourable and profitable 
reward for their labours. 

Dr. Carruthers, his colleague in the " Cyclopaedia 
of English Literature," says, " His worldly prosperity 
kept pace with his acquirements and his labours ; he 
was enabled to practise a liberal hospitality and a 
generous citizenship ; strangers of any mark in litera- 
ture or science were cordially welcomed, and a fore- 
noon antiquarian ramble with Robert Chambers in 
the old town of Edinburgh, or a social evening with 
him in Doune Terrace, were luxuries highly prized 
and long remembered. Thus we have an instance of 
a life meritorious, harmonious in all its parts, happy, 
and benefiting society equally by its direct operation 
and its example." 

The news of Robert Chambers's death so affected 
his brother, Mr. David Chambers, who was at that 


time confined to his home through illness, that it 
caused the rupture of a blood-vessel in the liver, and 
three days after this he followed his elder brother; 
like him he had been an earnest friend of press re- 
form, and had devoted much of his time to pro- 
moting the repeal of the fiscal restrictions upon 

Mr. William Chambers, who undertook from the 
first the largest share in the mercantile concerns of 
the firm, has still found time to accomplish a large 
amount of literary work. In addition to the book 
previously mentioned, he has published, among 
others, " Travels in Italy," and a " History of Peeble- 
shire," and the " Memoir of Robert Chambers," be- 
sides contributing freely to the Journal, and other of 
their serial publications. 

Charles Knight was born at Windsor in the year 
1791, and was the only child of his father, a book- 
seller and printer of some importance in that town, 
who, by his connection with the Microcosm, a paper 
conducted by Canning, and written by Hookham 
Frere, "Bobus" Smith, and other Etonians, had 
made many influential friends. The last number of 
this schoolboy journal appeared, however, four years 
before the birth of his son. 

Charles was educated at the school of a Dr. 
Nicholas at Ealing, and his early avidity for reading 
had, he himself thinks, much to do with rendering his 
constitution weak and feeble. At the age of fourteen 
he signed indentures of apprenticeship to his father, 
and in 1812, when he attained his majority, he was 
sent up for a few weeks to London to undergo a 
short term of training in the office of the Globe news- 

16 2 


paper, so as to give him practical experience in re- 
porting and other journalistic work ; for from early 
boyhood he had determined to possess a paper of his 
own. On Aug. 1st of the same year his desire was 
realized, and, in conjunction with his father, he 
started the Windsor and Eton Express, the editor- 
ship of which he continued up to the year 1827, find- 
ing time, however, in the midst of his busy life, to 
devote to the cultivation of more general literature. 
In 1813 appeared the first original work from his pen, 
"Arminius," a tragedy which had been offered to 
the manager of Drury Lane Theatre, and had of 
course been rejected, but very courteously. During 
his residence at Windsor he was co-editor, with H. 
E. Locker, of the Plain Englishman, a miscellaneous 
journal, which only lasted from 1820 to 1822. 

His first venture into the dimly descried regions of 
popular literature appeared, he says, in the Windsor 
Express for Dec. II, 1819, in a paper called "Cheap 
Publications," and was followed by others, till, in one 
of the last numbers of the Plain Englishman, we 
come across an article entitled "Diffusion of Useful 
Knowledge" a straw which shows which way his 
mind was turning. 

Among Mr. Knight's other literary labours at this 
time, in 1820, he undertook the editorship of the 
Giiardian, again in partnership with a colleague ; and 
his life, divided between Windsor and London, be- 
came one of very pleasurable excitement. His con- 
nection, too, with a literary journal, served to render 
him familiar with the aspects of the publishing trade 
in London, and at the end of 1822 he sold his share 
of the Guardian, and took up his position in Pall 
Mall East, and started as a publisher. 

Charles Knight. 



One day, shortly after this, coming back jaded and 
weary from his London office he found two Eton 
lads W. M. Praed and Walter Blunt waiting at his 
cottage with an eager proposal that he should publish 
an Eton miscellany. Generously and sympatheti- 
cally did Mr. Knight enter into the schemes of the 
schoolboys ; and the plan of the Etonian was forth- 
with drawn up. Knight found much pleasure in 
watching and assisting the young periodical, which 
was a kind of pleasant nursery ground for the growth 
and display of the youthful talent of which Eton then 
proudly and unwontedly boasted. "It was refresh- 
ing," he writes, " after the dry labours of his day in 
town, to watch the bright, earnest, happy face of Mr. 
Blunt, who took a manifest delight in doing the 
editorial drudgery ; the worst proofs (for in the haste 
unavoidable in periodical literature he w r ould some- 
times catch hold of a proof ?i#read) never disturbed 
the serenity of his temper. To him it seemed a real 
happiness to stand at a desk in the composing-room." 
But Praed it was, with his sparkling wit, his elegant 
aptness of expression, and his boyish gallantry that 
yet smacked of the wise experience of age, who was 
the life and soul of the project, and his contributions 
eventually occupied fully one-fourth of the whole 
miscellany, and when he went to Cambridge it was 
thought advisable, perhaps found necessary, to termi- 
nate the Etonian altogether. Still Mr. Knight's 
chief hopes as a publisher were centred in the pro- 
mise of his young Eton friends, and during a week 
passed with them at Cambridge the general plan of 
Knighfs Quarterly Magazine was settled, and he 
was introduced to Derwent, Coleridge, Maiden, and 
Macaulay, afterwards his chief contributors. 


Mr. Knight was his own editor, and with the assist- 
ance of such writers, his periodical could not fail to 
be a success. Even Christopher North, in Edinburgh, 
was moved to write of them as a hopeful class of 
" young scholars," and Knight retorted to this stale 
accusation of youth by declaring that he had read 
and rejected seventy-eight prose articles, and one 
hundred and twenty copies of occasional verses, " all 
the property of the old periodical press," while Praed 
wrote saucily enough, that " Christopher North is a 
barn from his wig to his slippers." 

After the first two numbers, Macaulay felt con- 
strained to retire, as his father objected to the political 
opinions of the magazine, but he was luckily induced 
to alter his mind, and to the future numbers he contri- 
buted the best of his early poems notably, "Moncon- 
toria" and "Ivry"and the "Songs of the Civil Wars." 
Here, too, were printed Praed 's most charming jeux 
d'esprits, so called, though depth of feeling and noble- 
ness of sentiment often lay beneath their airy banter- 
ing tone. De Quincey, then almost starving in the 
streets of London, was made lovingly free of its pages, 
and the Quarterly Magazine attained a great celebrity 
as the most classical, and yet the lightest, gayest, and 
most pleasing periodical of the day. 

Unfortunately a division occurred among the con- 
tributors themselves their opinions, and the opinions 
they expressed, were as widely divergent as the four 
winds of heaven their supply of matter was quite 
irregular, varying with the individual amusements of 
the hour reaching, Knight tells us, to " wanton neg- 
lect ;" and after many dissensions, the publisher felt 
"that he had to choose between surrendering the 
responsibility which his duties to society had com- 


pelled him to retain, or to lose much of the assistance 
which had given to the Quarterly Magazine its peculiar 
character." He could not hesitate in his choice, and 
with the sixth number the work ceased, being, how- 
ever, continued under the editorship of Maiden, and 
in the hands of another publisher for a quarter longer, 
but the panic that ruined Scott and Constable, and 
shook so many publishing houses, made small work of 
the transplanted Quarterly. 

This period of Knight's life may be regarded as the 
time when he sowed his publishing wild oats ; hence- 
forth sterner work awaited him. Among, however, 
the earliest of his distinct publications may be menr 
tioned Milton's " Treatises on Christian Doctrine/' 
then first discovered among the documents at the 
State Paper Office. 

Knight had fortunately no bills afloat at the time 
of the panic which, in connection with his endeavour 
to assist the Windsor bank, he so graphically describes 
" In the Albany we found the partners of one firm 
deliberating by candle light a few words showed how 
unavailing was the hope of help from them : ' We shall 
ourselves stop at nine o'clock.' The dark December 
morning gradually grew lighter ; the gas lamps died 
out ; but long before it was perfect day we found 
Lombard Street blocked up by eager crowds, each 
man struggling to be foremost at the bank where he 
kept his accounts, if its doors should be opened." 
Still, Mr. Knight, though not directly involved, found, 
like many other publishers, that the schemes of 1825 
would not sell in 1826, and that the booksellers must, 
spite of themselves, " hold on " as best they could. 
Colburn, indeed, was the only one who still continued 
his ventures, and from the light and soothing nature 


of his publications, chiefly fictions calculated to allay 
the torture of reality, he was able to reap a reward for 
his temerity. 

Every day found Mr. Knight more sick of his pros- 
pects than the last. The Brazen Head, a weekly 
satirical and humorous journal of his just started, 
lightened though it was by the rippling wit of Praed, 
fell upon the public like a leaden lump. 

Mr. Knight's brain had long been filled with a 
scheme of popular and cheap literature, and he now 
made up his mind to start afresh to tempt the world 
and bless it with a real " National Library," so good 
that all should desire, so cheap that all would buy. 
Lord Brougham, who was at that moment organizing 
the "Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge," 
heard of this plan and obtained an introduction to the 
schemer. The idea of the National Library was at 
first taken up by the Society, but was finally adopted 
by John Murray. Differences of opinion as to 
the editorial responsibilities, and the arrangements as 
to the transfer of his stock to Albemarle Street, pre- 
sented new difficulties, and thoroughly sick of the 
whole matter, Mr. Knight suddenly abandoned it. 
The germ of his idea, however, bore fruit in the 
" Treatises" published by the Society in March, and in 
the " Cabinet Encyclopaedia," issued a few years after- 
wards by Longman. " My boat," writes Mr. Knight, 
"was stranded. Happily for me there were no 
wreckers at hand ready for the plunder of my 
damaged cargo." Anyhow, for the time being, publishing 
was over. To a man of indomitable pluck, and blessed 
with the pen of a ready writer, journalism presents a 
tolerably open field, and to newspaper work Mr. 
Knight again addressed himself; but in a few weeks 


a document, which Mr. Knight values, he says, as a 
soldier values his first commission, reached him con- 
taining an offer of the superintendence of the Society's 
publications, an offer that was forthwith accepted. As 
a first step, the " Library of Entertaining Knowledge " 
was commenced, and, in 1828, he started the British 
Almanac, and the Companion to the Almanac a 
wonderful change for the better after the "Poor 
Robins " and " Old Moores " of the past. 

In 1832, Mr. Knight was offered an official position 
at the Board of Trade, but fortunately for the educa- 
tion and interests of the people he had the courage to 
refuse it, having the pleasure, however, of being asked 
to recommend some one else to the post. In the 
March of this year appeared the first number of the 
Penny Magazine, subsequent by only a very few weeks 
to Chambers' s Edinburgh Journal. 

The new periodical had been suggested by Mr. Hill 
in a conversation about the wretched character of the 
cheap prints of the period. " Let us," he exclaimed, 
" see what something cheap and good can accomplish ! 
Let us have a penny magazine !" " And what shall 
be the title ?" asked Knight. " The Penny Magazine" 
At once they went to the Lord Chancellor, who 
entered cordially into the project, and though a few 
old Whig gentlemen on the committee urged that the 
proposed price was below the dignity of the Society, 
and muttered, " It is very awkward, very awkward," 
Mr. Knight undertook the risk, and was immediately 
appointed editor. 

The success of the magazine was amazing even to 
the sanguine editor; at the close of 1832 it reached a 
sale of 200,000 in weekly and monthly parts repre- 
senting probably a million readers, and Burke had 


only forty years previous estimated the number of 
readers in this country at 80,000 ! Among the con- 
tributors it will be sufficient to mention Long, De 
Morgan, Creswick, Allan Cunningham, and Thomas 
Pringle, whilom editor of the Whiggish Blackwood, 
One writer, however, stands out from the rest, both 
by his misfortunes and his attainments coming not 
only under the " curse of poverty's unconquerable 
ban/' but being completely deaf and almost dumb. 
Recommended to Mr. Knight as an extraordinary, 
though unknown genius, who had been brought up in 
a charity school, stricken with a sudden and melan- 
choly affliction, who had worked his way to St. Peters- 
burg, and thence through Russia to Moscow, and on 
to Persia and the Desert ; who knew French and 
Italian perfectly; the kind-hearted publisher, from 
the very first, took a liking to Kitto soon to be 
known as an eminent traveller, Orientalist, and Biblical 
commentator. After the first trial article of " The 
Deaf Traveller," Kitto was regularly engaged to assist 
Mr. Knight personally in his own room ; and here in 
his spare time he managed to acquire German. 

In spite of the somewhat scurrilous attacks made 
upon the Penny Magazine by Colburn in his New 
Monthly it was a continuous success, and ultimately 
paved the way to a work infinitely more important 
the " Penny Encyclopaedia." 

It will be essential here to understand the position 
of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. 

This Society was founded in 1826 by Lord 
Brougham and other gentlemen, described by Mr. 
Knight as the leading statesmen, lawyers, and philan- 
thropists of the day. " It was a blow aimed at the 
monopoly of literature the opening of the flood-gates 


of knowledge." At first the Society possessed no 
charter, but obtained one in May, 1832, not probably 
a very useful or essential gift, nominating Brougham 
as president, Lord John Russell as vice-president, 
and William Tooke, Esq., treasurer. No subscriptions 
were called for, or rather these means had been at once 
abandoned, and the "arrangements made with the 
publisher since the beginning of the Society have gone 
upon the principle of leaving the committee as far as 
possible free from risk, and unencumbered with com- 
mercial responsibility ; but at the same time deriving 
a fair proportion of pecuniary advantage from the 
ultimate success of the undertaking." The publisher 
in the first instance paid down a certain sum for the 
copyright, sufficient to cover the disbursements to the 
authors by the committee, who, after a limit of sale, 
received a royalty of so much per thousand copies. 
At first the Society's publications abounded in 
almanacs ; " The British Almanack," " The British 
4d. Almanack," " The Penny Sheet Almanack," and 
" The British Working-man's Almanack." Then came 
the Penny Magazine, the British Quarterly Journal of 
Education, and the "Penny Encyclopaedia," the first 
number of which was issued in July, 1833. It was 
originally projected to form a moderate-sized book of 
eight volumes, and every article was to be written 
expressly for the work. This limited size was found 
to be incompatible with original work by the best 
writers, and after a year the price and quantity were 
doubled ; after three years more, quadrupled. In the 
present form, and according to the original scheme, 
the issue would have taken thirty-seven years. But 
this increase of matter, while it largely enhanced the 
intrinsic value of the work, was utterly fatal to its 


commercial success. The committee got, says Mr. 
Knight, the credit of the work, without incurring any 
of the risk ; and the expenditure on literary matter 
alone amounted to ^"40,000. The sale, owing to the 
increase of matter and price, rapidly declined : at first 
consisting of 75,000 copies, it fell at the increase to 
twopence to 55,000, in the second year to 44,000, and 
at the close of the fourpenny period it was actually 
reduced to 20,000 ; and this chronic loss entailed upon 
Mr. Knight for the duration of eleven years absorbed 
every other source of profit in his extensive business. 
This loss was still further augmented by the enor- 
mously heavy paper duty of threepence per pound, 
but which was reduced in 1836 to half that price. 

Mr. Knight was originally associated with Mr. Long 
in the editorial duties, but soon wisely gave up the 
management of the literary department. 

Mr. George Long, who is now leaving a Professor- 
ship at Brighton College for Chichester,* had been 
bracketed with Macaulay and Professor Maiden for 
the Craven Scholarship a fact that says something, 
were it necessary, for his attainments and was able 
to gather together the most able men of the day on 
his staff", all of whom, whether belonging to the Society 
or otherwise, were handsomely remunerated for their 
labour. Upon De Morgan rested, perhaps, after the 
editor, the heaviest labour, for he undertook the whole 
department of Mathematical Science. The Bio- 
graphical portion was chiefly due to G. C. Lewis, 
G. Long himself, P. and W. Smith, and Donaldson. 
It is impossible, necessarily, to mention many out of the 

* Mr. Long has deposited in the Public Library at Brighton his private 
copy of the "Encyclopaedia," interleaved with the names of the contri- 
butors, and other interesting information as to the progress of the work, 


200 contributors, and it will suffice for our purpose to 
enumerate the names of Professors Craik, Forbes, and 
Donaldson, and Messrs. Ellis, Lewis, and Kitto, as 
writers on all general subjects ; and Mr. W. J. 
Broderip as taking the Natural History department. 
Quite a new feature in the composition of the staff 
was the introduction of foreign writers of eminence, 
who composed either in their own language or in 
ours, all the articles being revised by the editor and 
his assistants, and rendered into perfectly good 

We must follow Mr. Knight's own publications, 
remembering that their issue was contemporary with 
the " Encyclopaedia." Next to that in costliness was 
the " Gallery of Portraits," issued in monthly parts at 
half-a-crown each, to which, among other authors, 
Hallam and De Quincey contributed. 

The connection between Mr. Knight and Kitto was 
still very strong and affectionate. In January, 1834, 
we find him detailing pleasantly the amount of work 
he had to do for 16 a month " a most comfortable 
sum for me " and later on we come across him 
asking Mr. Knight's advice in regard to his proposed 
marriage. "I have felt it prudent and proper to 
postpone it for awhile until I should have consulted 
with you. ... I have hitherto been so connected in 
my employments with those who took a strong per- 
sonal interest in my affairs, and to whom I am 
accustomed to talk freely about them, that I am 
led to trouble you more about myself and my circum- 
stances than is warranted by my existing relations. 
If so, I doubt not your kindness will readily excuse 
the absence in a dumb man of those little proprieties 
with which he has not had much opportunity of 


becoming acquainted." A curious subject on which 
to consult one's publisher, but then Mr, Knight was 
something more, and immediately promised such 
remuneration and regular employment as would free 
Kitto's entrance into wedded life from the charge of 

The " Bilder Bibel," then publishing in Germany, 
suggested to Mr. Knight his " Pictorial Bible ;" and 
Kitto, after having tested hisjDwn fitness for the work 
thoroughly, boldly undertook to execute the whole 
task, giving up, of course, all other work, and receiving 
250 a year during the progress of the book, and on 
completion such a sum of money as seemed a small 
fortune. This completed and it was one of the most 
remunerative works upon which Mr. Knight was ever 
engaged he commenced his " Palestine," and in such 
subjects Kitto found at last his true vocation. 

The "-Pictorial History " occupied seven years in 
coming out, in parts, of course. Mr. Craik wrote the 
social, religious, and commercial portions, and Mr. C. 
Macfarlane undertook the larger department of civil 
and military history ; many other gentlemen also 
contributed. The same fault occurred here as in the 
" Penny Encyclopaedia" it was too long for serial pub- 
lication. By an error of judgment on the part of the 
editors, four of the eight volumes were devoted to the 
reign of George III. ; the subscribers became weary, 
and the project turned out to be a commercial 

This was followed in 1843 by the "Illustrated 
London," certainly the best and most trustworthy 
history we yet have in extenso of the great metropolis. 

The issue of the "weekly volumes" was also in 
progress, commencing with a " Life of Caxton," by 


Mr. Knight himself ; but the series soon became the 
" shilling volumes." 

The Penny Magazine terminated on the 2/th Dec., 
1845, and its continuation, Knight's Penny Magazine, 
proving but barely remunerative, the hint was taken, 
Mr. Knight declaring that it should never be said of 
him, " Superfluous lags the veteran on the stage." 

The "Penny Encyclopaedia" terminated in December, 
1843, and though a ruinous loss to Mr. Charles Knight, 
was at the same time, as regards the general public, 
perhaps the greatest publishing triumph that had yet 
been accomplished. The banquet given in his honour 
by the contributors was, Mr. Knight tells us, the 
proudest moment in his life, and was certainly a 
tribute as well earned^as it was unique. 

Into the next and grandest venture of the Society 
for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge Mr. Knight 
could not afford to take part fortunately, indeed, for 
the scheme, magnificent but futile, proved a death- 
blow to the Society. The " New Biographical Dic- 
tionary " was intended to assume proportions beyond 
anything of the kind hitherto attempted ; but to the 
astonishment of the committee it was found that when 
the letter A was completed seven half volumes had 
been filled, and a loss of 5000 had been incurred. 
This was bad enough, but when contributors were 
requested to send in suggestions as to the letter B, 
one man alone forwarded more than 2000 names. By 
this time the Society had exhausted its available 
funds, and, frightened by the prospect, thought itself 
quite justified in retiring from the public scene. " Its 
work is done, for its greatest object is achieved fully, 
fairly, and permanently. The public^is supplied with 
cheap and good literature to an extent which the most 


sanguine friends of improvement could not in 1826 
have hoped to witness in twenty years." 

In 1843, Mr. Knight had published his "Life of 
Shakespeare," a work by which, as a valuable history 
of Elizabethan times, and a charming, though neces- 
sarily an imaginary, sketch of our greatest poet, the 
author will, we think, though multitudinous in his 
writings, be most distinctly remembered. His edition 
of Shakespeare, which for reverent love and editorial 
labour is almost unrivalled, has appeared in various 
guises, as the " Popular," the " Library," the 
"National," the "Cabinet" (three editions), the 
"Medium" (three editions), and the "Stratford" 
(three editions). 

By far the most remarkable of Mr. Knight's labours, 
and perhaps the most useful, was his "Shilling Volumes 
for all Readers" (1844- 1 849), 1 86 volumes, i6mo., in all; 
for though his editorial labours were terminated when 
about two-thirds of the work was completed, he still 
considered himself responsible as regards the general 
character of the works. " I may confidently state," 
he says, " that in this extensive series, no single work, 
and no portion of a work, can be found that may not 
safely be put into the hands of the young and unin- 
formed, with the security that it will neither mislead 
nor corrupt." In a postscript to the last volume he 
adds : " I now venture to believe that I have accom- 
plished what I proposed to do. First, I have endeavoured 
to produce a series of books which comprehends some- 
thing like the range of literature which all well-educated 
persons desire to have at their command." Without 
attempting any very exact classification of the various 
subjects of the volumes, they may be thus distributed 
into large departments of knowledge : 


Analytical Accounts of Great Writers, English and Foreign ... 13 

Biography 33 

General History 5 

English History 26 

Geography, Travel, and Topography 33 

Natural History 17 

Fine Arts and Antiquities 8 

Arts and Sciences, Political Philosophy, &c 14 

Natural Theology and Philosophy 15 

General Literature 16 

Original Fiction 6 


After this noble endeavour in a good cause, it is 
literally heartrending to read Mr. Knight's candid 
confession that not twenty volumes of the series 
achieved a circulation of 10,000 copies. 

As soon as the Poor Law Board was established, 
Mr. Knight became officially connected with it as an 
authorized publisher, and from that time he almost 
entirely gave up general publishing, and his works 
were entrusted to the care of other firms. 

The copyright of the " Encyclopaedia " remained in 
his possession, and was turned to good account in 
the " National Encyclopaedia," and later on in the 
" English Encyclopaedia," in which, however, nothing 
was reprinted without thorough revision, many of the 
articles being entirely new. 

Several of Mr. Knight's productions, such as " The 
Land we Live in," commenced in 1847, turned out, in 
the hands of the "copy publisher," to be perfect mines 
of wealth. 

In 1854 appeared the "Popular History of Eng- 
land;" it was completed in 1862. 

In 1851 we find Mr. Knight going about as joint 
manager with Mr, Payne Collier, of that band of 
illustrious amateur actors who have become so famous. 



Among them we find Charles Dickens, Mark Lemon, 
G. Cruikshank, Wilkie Collins, and R. H. Home. "A 
joyous time, this," writes Mr. Knight, who had played 
the part of " One Tonson, a bookseller," " left-legged 
Jacob" having, he adds, "but a paltry representative." 
Among Mr. Knight's chief literary labours, we must 
instance his " Half-Hours with the Best Authors " a 
book that has achieved a world-wide popularity ; 
" Once upon a Time ;" and " Passages of a Working 
Life for Half a Century" (in 3 volumes), a charming 
and interesting autobiography, to which we are in- 
debted for most of the facts in this short notice of his life. 
Full of years and of honours, Mr. Knight died at 
Addlestonc, in Surrey, on the Qth of March, 1873, 
aged eighty-one ; and five days afterwards was buried 
in the family vault at Windsor. The funeral was very 
large, from the number of literary men attending, who 
wished to show their feeling of affection and respect 
for the deceased. In the newspaper notices, too, the 
tribute of praise was unanimous and hearty ; and it 
was resolved that the gratitude of writers and readers 
should not stop here. A committee has been formed 
to erect some kind of memorial, and many of the 
leading men of letters, as well as some of the leading 
publishers, are taking part in it. It has been hoped 
that this memorial may assume the shape of a free 
public library for London, and thus initiate a move- 
ment that, to our shame, has made such successful 
way in our great provincial towns. Nothing else 
could so appropriately perpetuate the memory of 
a life so earnest in its purpose of spreading cheap 
literature far and wide, so brave in difficulty, so utterly 
unmindful of self-gain in the work planned out and 
done ; that none who know its story can gainsay 
Douglas Jerrold's most happy epitaph, "Good Knight." 


JOHN CASSELL, though of a family originally Kentish, 
was born at Manchester on 23rd January, 1817. The 
child of poor parents, his school education was very 
simple and elementary, and at an early age he adopted 
the trade of carpentry. In most lads of that class, 
education, such as it is, is totally ended when once 
they leave the school-house to follow some manual 
calling ; but from the day that Cassell took his first 
serious step in life he determined to educate himself, 
to break down the trammels of class ignorance, first of 
all in his own case, and, that once accomplished, to assist 
with all the energy he possessed, his brother workmen 
to do the same. At first he found his evening studies, 
after a hard day's work at the bench, somewhat 
irksome and painful ; but by degrees his reading 
became less and less elementary, and eventually he 
acquired, not only a considerable knowledge of English 
literature, but a fund of general information which, 
on the platform, as well as in private life, stood him 
in good stead ; and he also attained sufficient pro- 
ficiency in French to be afterwards essentially service- 
able in his repeated visits to the Continent. 

But, after all, his most valuable knowledge was 
acquired in the carpenter's shop, and among his fellow- 
workmen ; for here he gained an insight into the 
inner life the struggles, privations, and miseries, as 
well as the hopes and ambitions of the working 
classes ; and this knowledge was carefully stored up 
until he should, at a future time, see some way of 
firing their minds and ameliorating their condition. 

In 1833 the total abstinence movement was com- 
menced in Lancashire, under the active leadership of 
Mr. Joseph Livesey, of Preston, and known as "The 
Temperance Movement," went through the length and 



breadth of the land. About two years later, Livesey 
first met young Cassell in a lecture-room or chapel 
in Manchester. " I remember quite well," he writes, 
"his standing on the right, just below or on the steps 
of the platform, in his working attire, with a fustian 
jacket and a white apron on " a young man of 
eighteen, in the honestest and best of uniforms his 
industrial regimentals. 

Into the temperance movement John "Cassell threw 
himself heart and soul ; and thinking that London 
would afford a wider field for temperance missionary 
labours, and that his daily bread, as an artizan, might 
there be more easily earned, he left Manchester and 
arrived in the Metropolis in October, 1836, and in a 
few days he found his way to the New Jerusalem 
school-rooms in the Westminster Bridge Road, and 
made his first public speech. He is described by one 
who was present, as " a gaunt stripling, poorly clad, 
and travel-stained ; plain, straightforward in speech, 
but broad in provincialism." Shortly afterwards, he 
is again to be traced to Milton Street, Barbican. But 
his appearance here marked an episode in his life ; for 
his energy, his evident thoroughness, and his frank 
confession that he carried all his worldly goods in his 
little wallet, and that the few pence in his pocket 
were his only fortune, at once gained him friends. A 
gentleman present took him to his own home, and 
shortly afterwards presented him to Mr. Meredith, 
who enrolled the young enthusiast forthwith among 
the paid band of temperance agents he was generously 
supporting at his own cost. With characteristic 
energy Cassell started on a temperance tour a 
journey fraught with difficulty and hardship; and 
a few months after we find a notice of him in 


the Preston Temperance Advocate : "John Cassell, the 
Manchester carpenter, has been labouring with great 
success in the county of Norfolk. He is passing 
through Essex on his way to London. He carries his 
watchman's rattle an excellent accompaniment of 
temperance labours." A strange life that gaunt young 
prophet must have led ; trudging about from town to 
village, sounding an alarum ever as he went with his 
rattle, seeking by all means in his power to rivet a 
momentary attention, and then from barrel-head or 
tree-stump preaching in his broad Lancashire idiom 
a " New Crusade " not against such puny foes and 
nations as Turk or Saracen not of mere battles to be 
fought out by the exertion of so much or so little 
physical strength but of hideous vices to be con- 
quered vices that sat like skeletons beside half the 
hearths in England then and of noble mental vic- 
tories to be achieved. The women heard his rude 
eloquence, and tears rushed to their eyes, as they 
prayed that their brothers and sons might hearken 
and be convinced. The men paused on their way to 
the pot-house, and heard how homes now desolate 
might be made happy, how the weeping wife and the 
starving children might be rendered contented and 
cheerful, how their own sodden lives might be again 
cleansed and brightened ; then independence rose 
again from the hideous thrall that bound them, and 
many paused for ever. Even those who knew the 
proper use of alcohol listened with respectful attention 
to one who sought so earnestly to provide a safeguard 
for other men weaker than themselves. And thus 
Cassell trudged on, meeting often with scoffs and 
sneers, suffering much weariness and many priva- 
tions, but still hopeful, eager, and earnest In 


Lincolnshire his eloquent zeal won him not only a 
convert but a wife, and from this time he found that 
temperance lecturing was but a sorry provision for a 

Supported by his friends he now determined to aid 
the movement in another manner and he started a 
temperance publishing office and bookshop at the 
very house in the Strand now occupied by Mr. 
Tweedie, the present temperance publisher. For 
some time his trade went on successfully, but he en- 
deavoured to add to his resources by the congenial 
management of a large tea and coffee business in 
Fenchurch Street, and the liabilities he thus incurred 
overreached his capital. 

Now, however, Cassell had many influential friends, 
and one of these had sufficient faith in his capacity 
to start him afresh in life this time on a much 
larger scale. In his new business in La Belle Sauvage 
Yard, he was associated with Messrs. Fetter and 
Galpin, who before then were not very considerable 
printers in the neighbourhood and they determined 
to devote themselves to the broader work of pro- 
ducing cheap and popular books, then commencing to 
be in great demand not from policy only, though as 
the life of Robert Chambers shows it was a moment 
when the tide of fortune might be advantageously 
made use of by those brave enough and wise enough 
to see it but also because it had by this time been 
discovered that before the masses could be in any 
signal way really raised in social condition they must 
be educated. 

* Mr. G. W. M. Reynolds, of the "Mysteries of London" notoriety, 
commenced life also as a temperance lecturer, and was at one time editor 
of the Teetotaller Newspaper. 


Being widely known as a man sprung from the 
people as still one of themselves the working classes 
had faith in Cassell, and readily purchased his books 
when they were not so readily tempted to try the 
publications of the various societies. His knowledge 
of their real conditions and their wants was very use- 
ful, and while his opinion in every matter was most 
carefully adopted, the business department remained 
rather in the hands of his junior partners, especially in 
later years. 

In 1850 the Working Man's Friend appeared, the 
precursor of many similar works, and was followed, 
immediately after the Great Exhibition, by the 
Illustrated Exhibitor a comprehensive and well- 
executed scheme intended to preserve a permanent 
reflection of the World's Great Fair. This same idea 
was successfully repeated in 1862. 

Among all the works published by the firm perhaps 
the most useful was, and indeed is, the Popular Edu- 
cator ; in this, for the weekly sum of one penny, the 
vast store-house of human knowledge was thrown 
open ; the matter, carefully systematised and arranged 
so as to encourage self-tuition, aided many a struggler 
in the path of progress. This was ably followed by 
the Technical Educator. In the former of these works 
Lord Brougham took an immense interest, and his 
opinion of John Cassell was as pleasing as it was 
often repeated. 

Of the illustrated works issued in the same cheap 
method many were English, or rather European, classics, 
such as the " Pilgrim's Progress," " Don Quixote," 
" Foxe's Book of Martyrs," " Shakespeare," " Robinson 
Crusoe," " Gulliver's Travels," &c. Like Tegg or 
Lackington, Cassell must be looked upon rather as an 


encourager of the reading than of the writing world ; 
but among the works claiming originality as well as 
cheapness, the History of England \s perhaps the best ; 
the Natural History is well printed, well illustrated, 
and, as far as regards the more legitimate depart- 
ment of the publisher's trade, worthy of praise ; the 
" letter-press," or literary portion, has, however, been 
much criticised. The Family Paper and the Quiver 
attained a very wide circulation, and while the latter 
is still one of the most favourite distinctly religious 
serials of the day, the former, until it was changed 
into the Magazine, held faithfully to its promise of 
pure and wholesome literature. 

In furtherance of his various schernes, Cassell often 
travelled, particularly to France, where he was well 
known, and where he was thus enabled to effect a 
very considerable business in the exchange and pur- 
chase of illustrations for his various works. In 1859 
he visited America, and, with the reputation that pre- 
ceded him, met with a very flattering reception. On 
his return, with the energy that distinguished his 
character he started a company for the manufacture 
of petroleum, which was the first in England to 
recognise the value of the new discovery. He also 
published a series of articles entitled " America as it 
is," in which the contest between North and South 
was discussed with a keenness of vision that results 
proved to be correct and almost prophetic. 

Among the important items of his business, and 
according to popular repute one of the most profita- 
ble, was the issue of weekly papers, which, the outer 
pages being left blank for local news, were circulated 
under various titles throughout the United Kingdom. 
But the greatest venture of the firm was undoubtedly 


the Family Bible, which was commenced in 1859. 
The cost of production is said to have amounted to 
^100,000; in six years upwards of 350,000 copies 
were sold, and it is at present calculated that half 
a million have been disposed of. Of the influence 
of this and other kindred works in displacing the 
infamous prints and penny serial horrors, the Book- 
seller says " We recently took a survey of the 
shop-windows in the notorious locality known as 
the Seven Dials. Here in one street, were three 
shops, the windows of which were filled with really 
respectable publications. In one shop scarcely any- 
thing was displayed but CasseWs Family Bible. In 
every one, of at least twenty-four, figured some event 
of sacred history. On making inquiries we found 
that a very large number in the very poorest neigh- 
bourhood was taking in the work every week, and 
expressed their delight to possess a long coveted 
article of furniture in the shape of a family Bible''' 

Up to his death Cassell was true to his early reso- 
lutions of fostering the progress of temperance and 
education, and on these subjects he was a frequent 
and popular lecturer. He took also a lively interest 
in the business of the firm, but latterly the manage- 
ment was virtually in the hands of his partners. The 
" History of Julius Caesar," by the ex-emperor, was, 
however, entrusted to his care, and was the last publi- 
cation in which he took an active interest. On the 
ist of April, 1865, he died at his residence in Regent's 
Park. He is described as having "a fine, massive, 
muscular frame, active and temperate habits of life, a 
cheerful disposition, a well-regulated mind, and troops 
of friends." Rising from the ranks, he was by his 
industry able to leave his wife a shareholder in one 


of our largest book manufacturing firms to the extent 
of, it is said, forty-two thousand pounds. The main 
interest of his life must, however, be considered to lie 
in the earnestness with which he laboured in causes 
he felt worthy of all labour, rather than in his career 
as a publisher, for the books he issued were little 
other than reprints of books whose popularity had 
been previously tested. 

At the time of Cassell's death it is said that 
upwards of 500 men were employed at the works ; 
that 855,000 sheets were printed off weekly, requiring 
a consumption of 1310 reams of paper. Latterly 
Messrs. Fetter and Galpin have launched out into a 
vastly superior style of book-publishing, and in placing 
the works of Gustave Dore before the English public 
have taken very high rank as Fine Art publishers. In 
other ways, too, they have shown a disposition to 
combine the production of valuable original works 
with the cheaper serials with which the name of their 
firm has been so long and successfully associated. 

It is impossible to close this chapter without refer- 
ring to the productions of Mr. Bohn. Our limited 
space and the value of his publications all the 
more valuable, doubtless, from being mainly repro- 
ductions of standard works alone prevent us from 
according him a separate chapter. 

Mr. Henry George Bohn, born in the year 1796, was 
the son of a London bookseller, who came, however, 
of a German family. At an early age he entered into 
his father's business, but throughout life, engrossed 
as deeply as any of his compeers in bookselling and 
publishing transactions, he ever found time and op- 
portunity for literary labour, and, in all, twelve im- 


portant works are due to his pen, either as author, 
translator, or editor. The first of his labours, the 
" Bibliotheca Parriana," was published in 1827. Very 
soon after, starting on his own account, he acquired a 
high reputation as a dealer in rare and curious books, 
and for the spirit with which he entered into the 
" remainder trade ;" in this latter branch even Tegg 
was compelled to confess that Mr. Bohn eventually 
surpassed him. The merest reference to his monster 
" Guinea Catalogue " will give an idea of the magni- 
tude of his transactions at this period. Far, however, 
from being a mere trade guide, this catalogue is an 
invaluable literary work the most useful, as it cer- 
tainly is the largest, that has come from Mr. Bohn's 
pen. It is quaintly described by Allibone as " an 
enormously thick nondescripto ; Teutonic shape, best 
model ; ... an invaluable lexicon to any literary 
man, and ten guineas would be a cheap price for a 
work calculated to save time by its convenience for 
reference, and money by its stores of information as 
to the literary and pecuniary value of countless 
tomes." The Literary Gazette, in an appreciative and 
well-earned compliment, says : " Mr. Bohn has out- 
done all former doings in the same line, and given us 
a literary curiosity of remarkable character. The 
volume is the squattest and the fattest we ever saw. 
It is an alderman among books, not a very tall one ; 
and then, alderman-like, its inside is richly stuffed 
with a multitude of good things. Why, there is a list 
of more than 23,000 articles, and the pages reach to 
1948 ! . . . This catalogue has cost him an outlay of 
more than 2000, and it describes 300,000 volumes, a 
stock which could hardly be realized at much less a 
< plum.' " 


In 1846, Mr. Registrar Hazlitt suggested the idea 
of a cheap uniform library of world-known books to 
David Bogue, the bookseller, who consequently com- 
menced his European Library. In 1846-7, fifteen 
works were published, edited for the most part by Mr. 
W. Hazlitt. Mr. Bohn, however, discovered that in 
many of these works copyrights, of which he was the 
owner, were infringed, notably in Roscoe's " Lorenzo 
de' Medici " and " Leo X." An injunction was ob- 
tained against the further issue of one of Bogue's 
volumes, and in defence, if not retaliation, Mr. Bohn 
determined to enter the field as a publisher of a 
similar series. In 1846 he produced the first volume 
of his Standard Library, which, running on for 150 
volumes, was sold at the then astoundingly small 
price considering their size, their quality, and the 
care with which they were edited and printed of 
$s. 6d. each. In 1847, tne Scientific Library was 
commenced, and was rapidly followed by the Anti- 
quarian Library, the Classical, Illustrated, and His- 
torical Libraries, the British Classics, &c. Bogue's 
small venture stood a poor chance against enterprise 
of this gargantuan scale, and in a short time his fifteen 
volumes came into Mr. Bonn's possession. Without 
counting the Shilling Library, or the more expensive 
works which were from time to time issued, Mr. Bohn 
continued the various libraries which are so imme- 
diately associated with his name, until the total num- 
ber of 602 volumes afforded the student a collection 
of such books as he might otherwise have spent a life- 
time and a fortune in acquiring. To few publishers, 
if to any, is the cheapening of the highest and rarest 
classes of English and foreign literature more deeply 
indebted than to Mr. Bohn. Strangely enough, how- 


ever, Mr. Bohn was the only member of the trade who 
endeavoured in 1860 to exert his influence against the 
abolition of the paper duty. 

Among the best known of Mr. Bonn's own produc- 
tions are his editions of Lowndes' " Manual," 
Addison's works, his " Polyglot of French Proverbs," 
his translation of Schiller's " Robbers," and his 
" Guide to the Knowledge of Pottery and Porcelain," 
which, though published in 1849, * s still the standard 
work on the subject. His position as an antiquarian 
is widely acknowledged, and he is a Vice-President of 
the Society of Arts. 

At an early period of his life Mr. Bohn married a 
daughter of the senior partner in the firm of Simpkin, 
Marshall, and Co., an alliance that doubtless strength- 
ened his business connections. His trade sales were 
for many years among the most important in London, 
lasting for three or four days, and were conducted 
after the manner of the good old school of booksellers 
now, alas ! almost extinct with the pleasing 
accompaniments of singing and supper. Though Mr. 
Bohn, a few years since, transferred his " Libraries " 
and his premises in York Street to Messrs. Bell and 
Daldy, -he has not yet entirely severed his connection 
with the bookselling world, though as the " father of 
the trade " he has long since earned the right to 
leisure and retirement a right acknowledged not 
alone in England, for in June, 1869, the New York 
Round Table devoted an interesting article to Mr. 
Bohn's retirement from the publishing world, and ob- 
served that many of his articles in "Lowndes" were un- 
surpassed in bibliography, especially those on Shake- 
speare and Junius. "Indeed," adds the writer, "if 
we may believe report, such has been the unceasing 

2 7 8 


devotion of Mr. Bohn to work that for years he had 
subjected himself to a weekly examination by his 
surgeon to warn him of the first symptoms of the 
collapse that such an unintermitted strain upon his 
mind might be supposed to produce." 



T3 OUND Henry Colburn clusters a body of writers^ 
^ lighter and gayer, and consequently more ephe- 
meral than any we have yet noticed men and women, 
too, for the matter of that, who purchased immediate 
success too often with a disregard of future reputation. 
As a lad, Henry Colburn was placed in the esta- 
blishment of William Earle, bookseller, of Albemarle 
Street, and after this preliminary training obtained the 
situation of assistant to a Mr. Morgan, the principal of 
a large circulating library in Conduit Street. Here 
he had, of course, ample opportunity of gauging the 
reading taste of the general public, and it is pro- 
bably from this early connection with the library-sub- 
scribing world that he determined henceforth to 
devote himself almost exclusively to the production 
of the light novelties which he saw were so eagerly and 
so incessantly demanded. In 1816 he succeeded to 
the proprietorship of the library, and conducted the 
business with great spirit and success until, removing 
to New Burlington Street, he resigned the Conduit 
Street Library to the hands of Messrs. Saunders and 
Ottley, who, until their recent dissolution, were famous, 


not only for their circulating library, but for the tender 
care they bestowed upon the works of suckling 
poets and poetasters. 

Before this change of residence, however, Colburn had 
already made several serious ventures on his own ac- 
count. All through his long career we shall find that he 
speculated in journalistic venture with as much spirit 
as he showed in any of his daring schemes to win 
popular credit and applause. In 1814, with the assist- 
ance of Mr. Frederick Shoberl, he originated the 
New Monthly Magazine and Universal Register, 
on "the principles of general patriotism and loyalty," 
founded, as its name implied, in direct opposition to 
Sir Richard Philips' Old Monthly. Among the early 
editors were Dr. Watkins and Alaric Watts, but in 1820 
a new series was commenced under the title of the 
New Monthly Magazine and Literary Journal, and 
Thomas Campbell, the poet, was appointed editor. 
The agreement still exists in Beattie's " Life of Camp- 
bell," and was unusually liberal. He agreed to edit the 
periodical for three years, to supply in all twelve 
articles, six in verse, six in prose ; and for these and 
his editorial services he received five hundred pounds 
per annum, to be increased if the circulation of the 
magazine materially improved. He was, of course, 
assisted by a sub-editor, and allowed a liberal sum for 
the payment of contributors. The magazine prospered, 
and passed successively through the editorial hands 
of Bulwer Lytton (1832) and Theodore Hook. In 
1836 a third series appeared under Mr. Harrison 
Ainsworth, and though Colburn parted with the pro- 
prietorship to Messrs. Chapman and Hall, and they 
in their turn to Messrs. Adams and Francis, Mr. Harri- 
son Ainsworth was till yesterday at his editorial post, 


delighting our children with precisely the same kind 
of enthralling romances with which he beguiled our 

In 1817 Colburn determined to introduce a paper 
upon the plan of a popular German prototype, and on 
the 26th January the first number of the Literary 
Gazette appeared, price one shilling. H. E. Lloyd, a 
clerk in the Foreign Department of the Post-Office, a 
good linguist, and a well-known translator from the 
German, was the chief contributor, and appears to 
have shared the editorial duties with Miss Ross, a lady 
afterwards pensioned by the Government. The repu- 
tation a'chieved was great, especially in reference to 
the Fine Arts, which were skilfully handled by William 
Carey, and at the twenty-sixth number Mr. Jerdan, 
formerly editor of the Sun, purchased a third of the 
property, and became the regular editor. Messrs. 
Longman eagerly embraced the offer of a third share, 
and with a staff of contributors, who varied from 
Canning to Maginn, the Literary Gazette obtained a 
wide popularity, and was recognized as an authority 
upon other matters than literature. At present, how- 
ever, the Gazette is most gratefully remembered as 
having encouraged in its poetical columns (fairly and 
impartially opened to merit, however obscure), the 
earliest writings of Mrs. Hemans, Bowles, Hood, 
Swain, James Smith, Howitt, and even Tupper. In 
1842 Jerdan bought out Colburn and the Messrs. 
Longman, and from his hands the editorship passed 
to L. Phillips, L. Beeve, and J. L. Jephson. In 1858 
a new series was commenced, under, successively, 
S. Brooks, H. Christmas, W. R. Workman, F. Arnold, 
John Morley, and C. W. Goodwin. In 1862 it was 
finally incorporated with the Parthenon. 



In 1816, the year before the foundation of the 
Literary Gazette, Colburn had, as we have seen, 
migrated to New Burlington Street, and soon rendered 
his shop famous as the chief emporium for the pur- 
chase and sale of novels and other light literature. 
The first book issued from the new establishment was 
Lady Morgan's " Zana " a work certainly not worth 
much, but scarcely meriting an attack in the Quarterly ', 
which Talfourd stigmatises as " one of the coarsest 
insults ever offered in print by man to woman ;" 
however, through the power of her ladyship's name, 
and with the aid of skilful advertising in which 
Colburn was perhaps the greatest expert in a time 
when the art had not reached its present high state of 
development " Zana" proved eminently successful. 
Talented in a manner Lady Morgan certainly was, 
and, as a proof, is said to have made more than twenty- 
five thousand pounds by her pen. She had published 
a volume of verses at the unfortunately early age of 
fourteen, and this idea of precocity seems to us to 
accompany all her works. 

At the suggestion of his friend Mr. Upcott, Colburn 
undertook, in 1818, the publication of "Evelyn's Diary," 
and its success would have been almost unparalleled 
had it not been followed in 1825 by the "Diary of 
Pepys." For more than 150 years this work reposed 
unread and unknown, until Mr. John Smith succeeded 
in deciphering the stenographic characters which had 
concealed so much amusement from the world. The 
Work, edited by Lord Braybrooke, was published in 
two volumes at six guineas, and though this and the 
two succeeding editions, at five guineas, were almost 
worthless from the editorial excisions they had under- 
gone from the too-modest fingers of the noble editor, 


the issues went off very rapidly, and Colburn obtained 
a very handsome profit on the 2200 he had paid for 
the copyright. In the fourth edition of 1848 Lord 
Braybrooke was urged to restore those characteristic 
passages which he had before condemned, and the full 
value of the work, as a photographic picture of an 
amusing, though dissolute, time was firmly established. 
Evelyn had before given us the history of Charles the 
Second's Court, with a gravity and openly-expressed 
reprobation which finely suited his character of a 
worthy and dignified old English country gentleman ; 
but still it is now to the pages of Pepys that all the 
world turns for an account of the royal domestic life 
of certainly the most infamous period of our annals. 
He is so charmingly garrulous, jotting down each 
night such quaint thoughts on what he had seen during 
the day, writing them by his fireside, with the same 
nonchalance with which he put on his night-cap, and 
with as little suspicion of ever being surprised in the 
one act as the other, that his truthfulness, his open* 
ness, and his scarcely-concealed partiality for as much 
vagabonding and frolicsome society as Mrs. Pepys 
would permit, carry the reader irresistibly along with 

It is, however, when we come to the novels that 
Colburn ushered into the world, that we strike upon 
the one vein of profitable ore that he made so pecu- 
liarly his own ; toi& facile princeps of all his novelistic 
clients, stands Theodore Hook. To understand the 
genius of all Hook's works, it is essential to take a 
short retrospective view of his life and character. 
Two things, above all else, strike us in regarding 
him that he possessed the greatest love of joke and 
frolic, and the most marvellous memory with which 

1 8 2 


ever man was gifted. As a boy of seventeen, he 
dashed off an amusing comedy ; this, he tells us in 
the really autobiographical sketch of " Gilbert Gur- 
ney," was the process. "To work I went, bought 
three or four French vaudevilles, and filching an inci- 
dent from each, made up my very effective drama, 
the ' Soldier's Return.'" And for this bantling he 
received the handsome first-earnings of fifty pounds. 
Living, at a time when other boys were at school, in 
the gayest of all society in London, a welcome guest 
behind the curtain at every theatre, and hailed as a 
good fellow in every literary coterie, young Hook led 
a rollicking, devil-may-care life, giving the world back 
with interest the rich amusement he gathered from it. 
Now, making a random bet that a corner house in 
Berners Street should, within a week, be the most 
famous house in London ; and within the time taking 
his opponent to a commanding window, that he might 
acknowledge that the wager had been fairly won ; 
and the strange scene in the thoroughfare must have 
soon convinced him. The Duke of York, drawn by 
six grey horses, the Archbishop of Canterbury and 
the Lord Mayor in formal state, every woman of 
notorious virtue, every man of any fame or notoriety, 
porters bustling up with wine-casks and beer-barrels, 
milliners with bonnet-boxes crushed and battered, 
pastry-cooks with dainty dishes that the street gamins 
soon picked out of the gutters, undertakers with rival 
coffins, variously made to exact measurement, hackney- 
coaches, and vans, and waggons by the hundred in 
fact, half the world of London was there by invita- 
tions especially adapted to move each individual case, 
and the other half soon came as spectators. The 
impotent " Charleys " of the day found their efforts 


useless to dispel the block and crush, and long before 
the crowd was cleared away, the next day's papers 
were ringing with the " Berners Street Hoax." Again, 
we find him donning a scarlet coat, and, as the Prince 
Regent's messenger, delivering a letter to an obnoxious 
actor, eagerly inviting him to dine with that august 
personage ; and then joining in the crush outside 
Holland House, to see his enemy come away discom- 
fited as an impostor. No occasion was sacred from 
his jests, and his exuberant spirits were scarcely in 
accordance with the tranquillity of academic life. At 
his very matriculation the Vice-chancellor, struck by 
his youthful appearance, asked him if he was fully 
prepared to sign the thirty-nine articles. " Oh, cer- 
tainly, sir," replied Hook with cool assiduity, " forty, 
if you please." Indignantly he was told to with- 
draw, and it took weeks of friendly interposition to 
appease the outraged dignitary. At the age of 
twenty he wrote his first novel, but it was a failure, 
and he shortly afterwards received the appointment 
of accountant-general and treasurer at the Mauritius. 
Here he stayed for some years, leading a life of plea- 
sure, and going to the office only five times in the 
whole period, when suddenly a commission was ap- 
pointed to inquire into the accounts, and he was 
dragged off from a supper, given in his honour, to 
prison, charged with a theft of 20,000, and sent 
under arrest to England. This "complaint of the 
chest," as he observed to a friend who was astonished 
to see him back so soon, was afterwards reduced to 
12,000, and for this he was judged to be accountable, 
and put into the debtors' prison. Here, from his 
diary, he seems to have enjoyed himself as much as 
ever, drinking as a loyal subject should, to the " health 


of my august detainer, the king." However, political 
influence was brought to bear upon the Government, 
and he was set at liberty with the burden of the debt 
hanging very lightly round his neck. 

In 1820 he founded the John Bull newspaper, 
strongly in favour of the king's interests, scurrilous as 
it was witty ; everybody read it, and for some years 
it yielded him 2000 per annum. His. life we see 
had been sufficiently various, and not an incident of it 
was ever forgotten, for his memory was probably 
unrivalled. He made a bet that he would repeat in 
order the names of all the shops on one side of Oxford 
Street, and he only misplaced one ; and he gained 
another wager by saying from memory a whole 
column of Times advertisement, which he had only 
once conned over ; and on another occasion he utterly 
discomfited a universal critic, by engaging him in a 
conversation anent lunar eclipses, and then discharg- 
ing three columns of the " Encyclopaedia Britannica" 
at him, without pause or hesitation. He had, too, the 
gift of improvising verse in our stubborn English 
tongue, and was known on one occasion to introduce 
the names of fifty guests at a supper-table, in a song 
of fifty verses each verse a rhymed epigram. 

With attainments and experiences like these, Col- 
burn may be considered as a wise rather than a 
venturous man when he offered Hook 600 to write 
a novel. The idea of the " Sayings and Doings" was 
struck out at a John Bull gathering, and the book 
when published in 1824, was so successful that 6000 
copies of the three volumes were soon disposed of,* 

* Lockhart, in his article in the Quarterly, says that Hook's diary 
shows a clear profit of ^2000 on the/r-tf series. This must be incorrect. 


and the generous publisher made the author a present 
of 350. For the second series (published in 1825), 
and the third series (published in 1828), he re- 
ceived a thousand guineas each. In 1830 appeared 
"Maxwell," perhaps the best of his novels, and this 
was followed by the "Parson's Daughter" (1833), 
"Jack Brag" (1837), and numerous others, for all of 
which he was very handsomely paid. But though he 
was earning at this period, upwards of 3000 a year 
by his pen, he was spending more than ^"6000, and was 
obliged, not only to make fresh engagements with his 
publishers, but to fore-draw to a very large extent, 
and to change his plans considerably with each instal- 
ment of indebtedness. Colburn and Bentley seem to 
have treated him with marked esteem and considera- 
tion, and his letters perpetually show this : " I have 
been so liberally treated by your house, that it seems 
almost presuming upon kindnesses" (1831). Again, in 
1837 : "I assure you I would not press the matter in 
a quarter where I am proud and happy to say as I 
do to everybody I have met with the greatest 

In 1834 he took the management of the New 
Monthly, and to its pages he contributed what may 
be considered an autobiographical sketch. "Gilbert 
Gurney" and the sequel " Gilbert Married," the 
second of which unfortunately was not autobiographi- 
cal ; for he had formed ties with a woman who had 
not only sacrificed everything to him, but during the 
period of his imprisonment and his many troubles 
had behaved with exemplary faithfulness and un- 
remitting attention ; and these ties he had not the 
courage to legally strengthen. At his death the 
crown seized what little property he possessed, in the 


shape of household chattels and newspaper shares, to 
liquidate his unfortunate debt, and his children were 
left penniless. A subscription was raised if literary 
men are improvident (though many have more excuses 
for improvidence than Theodore Hook), they are at 
least kindly-hearted and a sum of 3000 was col- 
lected, to which the King of Hanover contributed 
500. As a strange test of Hook's joviality it is 
stated that the receipts of the dining-room of the 
Athenaeum Club fell off by 300 when his well- 
known seat in " Temperance Corner" became vacant. 
Another of the novelists with whom Colburn had 
long and intimate dealings was G. P. R. James, one 
of the most indefatigable writers that ever drove pen 
over paper. We give for the sake of clearness, a 
tabular statement of his extraordinary labours : 

5 1 Novels in 3 Volumes 153 Volumes. 

2 4 8 

6 2 12 

16 i 16 

Edited Works 14 

Miscellaneous Contributions would fill say 10 

223 Volumes. 

Truly a gargantuan labour ! Some of James's 
early writings had attracted the attention of Wash- 
ington Irving, who strongly advised the undertaking 
of some more important work, and as a consequence 
" Richelieu" was commenced. After it had received 
Scott's approval it was submitted to Colburn, and 
published in 1828 with a success that determined the 
young author's future career. We cannot, of course, 
follow the progress of the 223 volumes as they issued 
from the press. It would be absurd to look for 
originality in a book-manufacturer of this calibre, 


and, as Whipple says, James " was a maker of books 
without being a maker of thought." Still they served 
their purpose of enriching the author and publishers, 
and at a time when the public appetite was less 
jaded than at present, his works were eagerly looked 
for, and even now many readers agree with Leigh 
Hunt : " I hail every fresh publication of James, 
though I hardly know what he is going to do with 
his lady, and his gentleman, and his landscape, and 
his scenery, and his mystery, and his orthodoxy, and 
his criminal trial." 

In 1826 Colburn published Banim's "Tales of 
the O'Hara Family," a book that excited a very 
strong interest in the public mind, and in the same 
year he issued "Vivian Grey," by a young author 
whose life was to be as romantic as his story. Mr. 
Disraeli's first book contains a curious confession of 
his youthful aspirations, and even a curiously exact 
prototype of his future life. This was followed in 
1831 by the "Young Duke." "Bless me!" the elder 
Disraeli exclaimed when he read this eloquent ac- 
count of aristocratic circles, "why the boy has 
never sat in the same room as a duke in his life." 
Mr. Disraeli's novels soon became famous for the 
portraits or caricatures of distinguished living people, 
scarcely disguised under the slightest of all possible 
pseudonyms ; to those living in the metropolis the 
likenesses were evident enough, and a regular key was 
published to each for the benefit of our country 

In 1829 Colburn published "Frank Mildmay," a 
novel full of false morality and falser style, but de- 
lineating sea life with such a flavour of fun and frolic, 
adventures and brine, that Marryat was at once 


hailed as a true successor to Smollett. This was 
followed by a rapid succession of sea stories, among 
the best of which undoubtedly are "Peter Simple" 
and "Midshipman Easy." The perusal of these 
works has probably done more to turn youthful as- 
piration and energies to the choice of a profession 
than any series of formal injunctions ever penned. 
Old King William, the Sailor-King, was so entranced 
with "Peter Simple" that he begged to be introduced 
to the author, and promised to bestow some honoura- 
ble distinction upon him for his services ; but after- 
wards recollecting suddenly that he "had written a 
book against the impressment of seamen," he refused 
to fulfil his pledge. When, later on, Colburn pub- 
lished Marryat's "Diary in America," the Yankees 
felt terribly outraged, and the severe criticism that 
followed speedily emptied his shelves of a large 

This was emphatically the period of fashionable 
novels, and the great outside world was perpetually 
calling out for more and more romantic accounts of 
that attractive region to which middle-class thought 
could only aspire in reverent fancy. And though 
these novels seemed written primarily to illustrate 
the moral lesson of Touchstone to the Shepherd 
" Shepherd, wert thou ever at court ?" "No." "Then 
thou art damned" the public received the oracle, not 
only with humility, but thankfulness. For a time 
Mr. Bulwer Lytton was a disciple of this fashionable 
school, but even " Pelham" has an interest greater 
than any other specimen of its class, for though, in 
some degree, an illustration of the maxim that " man- 
ners make the man," the threads of a darker and more 
tragic interest are interwoven with the tale. As an 


artistic worker, as a true delineator of our subtler 
and deeper passions, Lord Lytton was far above any 
other of Colburn's writers above, indeed, any other 
writer of the day ; while his sophistry, immense as it 
undoubtedly is, only lends a more forcible and en- 
thralling interest to his plots. None of Colburn's 
novelists and their name was legion brought in 
more grist to the publishing mill than Lord Lytton ; 
and, when the meal had been baked several times, 
Messrs. Routledge paid the author ^"20,000 for all 
future use of these works as popular now perhaps in 
their cheap editions as they have ever been before. 

To return for a moment more immediately to Col- 
burn's life, we find him still speculating in periodical 
literature, and with the same success as ever. In 
1828 he commenced the Court Journal, and in the 
following year started the United Service Magazine, 
while for many years he 'possessed a considerable in- 
terest in the Sunday Times newspaper ; and all these 
periodicals are still held in popular esteem. 

The printing expenses of his enormous business 
had been very considerable, and in 1830 he resolved 
to take his principal printer, Mr. Richard Bentley, 
into partnership ; but the alliance did not last long, 
and in August, 1832,, the connection was dissolved, 
and Colburn relinquished the business in New Bur- 
lington Street to Mr. Bentley, giving him a guarantee 
in bond that he would not recommence publishing 
again within twenty miles of London. 

However, his heart was so intuitively set upon the 
profitable risks of a publisher's career, that he could 
not quietly'retire in the prime of life, and, accordingly, 
he started a house at Windsor, so as to be within the 
letter of the law, but the garrison town was sadly 


quiet after the literary circles of London, and to 
London he again returned, paying the forfeiture in 
full. This time he opened a house in Great Marl- 
borough Street, as his old establishment in New 
Burlington Street was, of course, in possession of Mr. 
Bentley, whose business had already assumed for- 
midable proportions. At Great Maryborough Street, 
Colburn succeeded in rallying round him all his old 
authors, and, perhaps, the greatest triumphs that date 
from thence, are Miss Strickland's "Lives of the 
Kings and Queens of England and Scotland," for the 
copyright of the first of which he paid 2000. 
Burke's " Peerage," " Baronetage," and " Landed 
Gentry" were also among his most profitable posses- 

Throughout the whole of his business life, Colburn 
had a very keen perception as to what the public 
required, and of the market value of the productions 
offered him ; and yet he was almost uniformly liberal 
in his dealings. His judgment of copyrights was 
occasionally assisted by Mr. Forbes and Mr. Charles 

Of course, among the multitude of books he pro- 
duced, many were utterly worthless, beyond affording 
a passing recreation to the library subscribers, and 
many even were pecuniary failures. The most 
ludicrous of these failures was a scheme originated by 
John Gait, a constant contributor to the Neiv Monthly. 
This was a periodical, which, under the title of the 
New British Theatre, published the best of those 
dramatic productions, which the managers of the great 
playhouses had previously rejected. The audacity of 
the scheme carried it through for a short time, but 
soon the unfortunate editor was smothered amid such 


a heap of dramatic rubbish, coming at every fresh post, 
to the table of the benevolent encourager of youthful 
aspirations, that he was fain to acknowledge the 
justice of the managers' previous decisions. 

Although Colburn was throughout his career chiefly 
successful as a caterer for the libraries, supplying them 
with novels, which, by some mysterious law, were 
required to consist of three volumes of about three 
hundred pages each, the cost of the whole fixed im- 
mutably at one guinea and a half, his " Modern 
Novelists," containing his best copyright works, in a 
cheap octavo form, attained the number of nineteen, 
being published at intervals between 1835 and 1841, 
and formed a valuable addition to the popular litera- 
ture of the time. 

Finally, Colburn, having acquired an ample com- 
petence, retired from business, in favour of Messrs. 
Hurst and Blackett, still, however, retaining his name 
to some favourite copyrights. He had been twice 
married, the second time, in 1841, to the daughter of 
Captain Crosbie, R.N. 

After a period of well-earned leisure, rendered 
pleasingly genial by the constant society of his literary 
friends, Henry Colburn died, on the i6th of August, 
1855, at his house in Bryanston Square. 

The whole of his property was sworn to be under 
35,000, and went to his wife and her family. Two 
years later, the seven copyrights he had reserved were 
sold by auction, and realised the large sum of 14,000, 
to which Miss Strickland's " Lives of the Queens of 
England" alone contributed 6900. 

As publisher of three volume novels, Colburn 
was succeeded by two principal rival houses, with the 
foundation of each of which he was in some way con- 


cerned. As Mr. Bentley's establishment in New Bur- 
lington Street was only a further development of 
Colburn's old house, a few words may not be out of 
place concerning it. In 1837, Mr. Bentley proposed 
to start a periodical to rival the New Monthly, and at 
the preliminary meeting it was proposed to call it the 
Wits Miscellany, but James Smith objected to this as 
being too pretentious, upon which Mr. Bentley pro- 
posed the title of Bentley's Miscellany. " Don't you 
think/' interposed Smith, " that that would be going 
too far the other way ?" However, the name was 
adopted (Mr. Bentley denies the accuracy of this 
anecdote but se non e vero, e ben trovatd). One of the 
chief contributors to the new Miscellany was Barham, 
who had been a school chum of Mr. Bentley's at St. 
Paul's, and, until 1843, the " Ingoldsby Legends" 
delighted the public in the pages of the Miscellany. 
The last poem of the " Legends " was published in 
Colburn's New Monthly, but by Barham's express 
wish, the song he wrote on his death-bed, " As I Lay 
Athynkynge," appeared, as fitly closing his career, in 
Bentley. The first editor of Bentley s Miscellany, 
was no less a man than Charles Dickens, who had 
previously contributed the "Sketches by Boz" to the 
Morning Chronicle, and who soon, as the author of 
Pickwick, became the most popular writer of the day. 
Mr. Bentley was one of the first publishers to secure 
Dickens's services, and in his magazine " Oliver Twist" 
appeared. The editorship afterwards passed into the 
hands of Mr. Harrison Ainsworth and Mr. A. Smith. 
For the magazine, as for his ordinary business, Mr. 
Bentley secured the aid of most of the writers who 
had graduated first under Colburn ; and to enumerate 
them would, with the exception of " Father Prout," be 


merely a repetition of names already mentioned, and 
those who have won popularity since then have 
scarcely yet had time to lose it. An amusing story, 
however, worth repeating, has been recently told by 
the Athenceum, anent " Eustace Conway," a novel by 
the late Mr. Maurice. "We believe," says that 
journal, "we are not going too far in telling the 
following story about it. Mr. Maurice sold the novel 
to the late Mr. Bentley somewhere about the year 
1830 ; but the excitement caused by the Reform Bill 
being unfavourable to light literature, Mr. Bentley did 
not issue it till 1834, when he had quite lost sight of 
its author, then a curate in Warwickshire. The villain 
of the novel was called Captain Marryat ; and Mr. 
Maurice, who first learned of the publication of his 
book from a review in our columns, had soon the 
pleasure of receiving a challenge from the celebrated 
Captain Marryat. Great was the latter's astonishment 
on learning that the anonymous author of ' Eustace 
Conway' had never heard of the biographer of 
'Peter Simple,' and, being in Holy Orders, was 
obliged to decline to indulge in a duel." Mr. Bentley 
died in September, 1871, and was succeeded in the 
business by his son, who for many years had been 
associated with him. 



TVT OT only is the Rivington family the oldest still 
existing in bookselling annals, but even in itself 
it succeeded, a century and a half ago, to a business 
already remarkable for antiquity. In 1711, on the 
death of Richard Chiswell, styled by Dunton " the 
Metropolitan of booksellers," his premises and his 
trade passed into the hands of Charles Rivington, and 
the sign of the "Bible and the Crown" was then first 
erected over the doorway of the house in Paternoster 
Row ; and from that time to this the " Bible and the 
Crown" might have been fairly ^stamped upon the 
cover of nearly every book issued from the establish- 
ment, as a seal and token of its contents. 

Charles Rivington was born at Chesterfield, in 
Derbyshire, towards the close of the seventeenth cen- 
tury, and from a very early age he evinced such a 
taste for religious books that his friends determined 
to send him to London, that he might become a theo- 
logical bookseller. Having served his apprenticeship 


with a Mr. Matthews, he was, in 1711, made free of 
the city, preparatory to entering into business on his 
own account, and, bearing the date of that year, bill- 
heads are still existing to which his name is affixed. 
In 1718 we find him, in conjunction with other firms, 
issuing proposals to print by subscription Mason's 
" Vindication of the Church of England, and the 
Ministry thereof," a principle that the family has 
steadily adhered to ever since ; for though Rivington 
published one of Whitfield's very earliest works, " The 
Nature and Necessity of a New Birth in Christ," 
preached at Bristol in September, 1737, the author 
was then a young Oxford student, who had been but 
just ordained ; and Wesley, too, the other great 
religious mover of the day, was still a fellow of Lincoln 
College, Oxford, when Rivington brought out his 
edition of Thomas a Kempis' " Imitation of Christ," a 
book that has, after the Bible, gone through more 
editions than any other. 

About 1719, an association of some half-a-dozen 
respectable booksellers entered into partnership for 
the purpose of printing expensive books, and styled 
themselves the printing Conger* and, in 1736, another 
similar company was started by Rivington and Bettes- 
worth, who termed themselves the " New Conger." 

Much of Rivington's business consisted in the pub- 
lication of sermons, which, as a simple commission 
trade, was profitable without risk. An amusing story 
is told, which proves that the ponderous nature of his 
trade stock did not prevent Charles Rivington from 
being a man of kindly humour. A poor vicar, in a 

* The term Conger is ingeniously said to be derived from the eel, 
meaning that the association, r collectively, would swallow all smaller 



remote country diocese, had preached a sermon so 
acceptable to his parishioners, that they begged him 
to have it printed, and, full of the honour conferred 
and the greater honours about to come, the clergyman 
at once started for London, was recommended to 
Rivington, to whom he triumphantly related the 
object of his journey. Rivington agreed to his pro- 
posals, and asked how many copies he would like 
struck off. " Why, sir," replied the clergyman, " I 
have calculated that there are in the kingdom ten 
thousand parishes, and that each parish will, at least, 
take one and others more, so that I think we may ven- 
ture to print thirty-five or thirty-six thousand copies." 
Rivington remonstrated, the author insisted, and the 
matter was settled. With great self-denial, the 
clergyman waited at home for nearly two months in 
silence, but at length the hope of fame and riches so 
tormented him that he could hold out no longer, and 
he wrote to Rivington desiring him to send in the 
debtor and creditor account at once, but adding 
liberally that the remittance might be forwarded at 
his own convenience. What, then, was his astonish- 
ment, anguish, and tribulation, when the following 
account was received : 

The Revd. Dr. * * * 

To C. Rivington, Dr. 

s. d. 

To Printing and Paper, 35,000 Copies of Sermons - - 785 5 6 
By sale of 1 7 'Copies of said Sermon - - - - 156 

Balance due to C. Rivington .784 o o 

In a day or two he received a letter from Rivington 
to the following purport : 

" REV. SIR, I beg pardon for innocently amusing 


myself at your expense, but you need not give your- 
self any uneasiness. I knew better than you could do 
the extent of the sale of single sermons, and accord- 
ingly printed one hundred copies, to the expense of 
which you are heartily welcome."* 

In 1736 Rivington became an active member of a 
society for promoting the encouragement of learning, 
but as he and his colleagues sustained much injury 
through it, this was in the following year abandoned. 
In 1737 we find him venturing in a very different 
path. "Two booksellers," writes Richardson, "my 
particular friends (Rivington and Osborne), entreated 
me to write for them a little volume of letters, in a 
common style, on such subjects as might be of use to 
those country readers who were unable to indite for 
themselves. 'Would it be any harm,' said I, 'in a 
piece you want to be written so low, if one should 
instruct them how they should think and act in 
common cases, as well as indite ?' They were the 
more urgent for me to begin the little volume for the 
hint. I set about it, and in the progress of writing 
two or three letters to instruct handsome girls who 
were obliged to go out to service, as we phrase it, how 
to avoid the snares that might be laid against their 
virtue, the above story occurred to me, and hence 
sprang ' Pamela.' " The first two volumes of the story 
were written in three months, and never was a book of 
this kind more generally or more quickly admired. 
Pope asserted that it would do more good than twenty 
sermons, mindful, perhaps, of its publisher ; Slocock 
and many other eminent divines recommended it from 
the pulpit ; a critic declared that if all books were 

* Aldine Magazine, p. 5- 



burnt, the Bible and ' Pamela' ought to be preserved ; 
and even at fashionable Ranelagh, where the former 
was in but little request, " it was usual for the ladies 
to hold up the volume (the latter) to one another, to 
show that they had got the book that every one was 
talking of." What, however, was more to Rivington's 
purpose, the volume went through five editions in the 
year of publication, 1741. 

This success closed Charles Rivington's business 
life, for he died on the 25th of February, 1742. 

By Ellen Pease, his wife, a native of Durham, he 
had six children, to whom his friend Samuel Richard- 
son, the executor also of his will, acted as guardian. 

Charles, the founder, was succeeded by John and 
James, who carried on the publishing business con- 
jointly for several years, after which James joined a 
Mr. Fletcher, in St. Paul's Churchyard, with whom he 
brought out Smollett's "History of England," by 
which 10,000 was cleared the largest profit that had 
yet been made on any single book. This success, 
however, encouraged James to neglect his affairs, and 
he took to frequenting Newmarket ; racing and 
gambling soon ended in a failure, and in 1760 he 
thought it advisable to start for the New World. 
Here, in Philadelphia, he commenced his celebrated 
Gazette, and, as he advocated the British interests and 
took the loyal side, his premises were destroyed by 
the rebels, and his type cast into republican bullets. 
James Rivington then came back to London, where 
he obtained the appointment of " King's printer to 
America," and furnished afresh with types and presses 
he returned to recommence his Royal Gazette, which 
he carried on boldly up to the withdrawal of the 
British troops ; and as he had contrived somehow, it 


is said by forwarding early intelligence, to propitiate the 
enemy, he was allowed to continue his paper, which 
soon died for want of subscribers ; but until 1802 he 
lived in New York, leaving many descendants there. 
Even in those early and unsophisticated days, Yankee 
gentlemen had contracted the habit of " cowhiding" 
obnoxious or impertinent editors, and the wit of the 
Royal Gazette was in its time sufficiently stinging and 
personal to involve its proprietor in many of these 
little difficulties. James Rivington relates rather an 
amusing story of an interview with Ethan Allen, 
one of the republican heroes, who came for the express 
purpose of administering chastisement. He says : - 

" I was sitting down, after a good dinner, with a 
bottle of Madeira before me, when I heard an unusual 
noise in the street, and a huzza from the boys. I was 
on the second story, and, stepping to the window, saw 
a tall figure in tarnished regimentals, with a large 
cocked hat and an enormously long sword, followed 
by a crowd of boys, who occasionally cheered him 
with huzzas, of which he seemed quite unaware. He 
came up to my door and stopped. I could see no 
more my heart told me it was Ethan Allen. I shut 
my window, and retired behind my table and my 
bottle. I was certain. the hour of reckoning had come 
there was no retreat. Mr. Staples, my clerk, came 
in, paler than ever, clasping his hands ( Master, he 
has come !' ' I know it.' I made up my mind, looked 
at the Madeira, possibly took a glass. ' Show him 
up, and if such Madeira cannot mollify him, he must 
be harder than adamant.' There was a fearful moment 
of suspense ; I heard him on the stairs, his long sword 
clanking at every step. In he stalked. ' Is your 
name James Rivington ?' ' It is, sir, and no man can 


be more delighted to see Colonel Ethan Allen.' ' Sir, 

I have come ' 'Not another word, my dear Colonel, 

until you have taken a seat and a glass of old 
Madeira.' ' But, sir, I don't think it proper' ' Not 
another word, Colonel, but taste this wine ; I have had 
it in glass ten years.' He took the glass, swallowed 
the wine, smacked his lips, and shook his head 

approvingly. ' Sir, I come ' ' Not another word 

until you have taken another glass, and then, my dear 
Colonel, we will talk of old officers, and I have some 
queer events to detail.' In short, we finished three 
bottles of Madeira, and parted as good friends as if 
we never had cause to be otherwise." 

In England, to return there, John Rivington was still 
successfully fostering his father's business. A quiet 
and sedate man, with nothing of James' rashness and 
venture about him, he is described by West as being 
stout and well formed, particularly neat in his person, 
of dignified and gentlemanly address, going with gold- 
headed cane and nosegay twice a day to service at St. 
Paul's as befitted the great religious publisher of the 
day, and living generally upon the most friendly terms 
with the members of the Episcopal Bench, and 
breakfasting every alternate Monday with Bishop 
Seeker at Lambeth. A kind master, too, for" coming 
back on the 3Oth of January, from service, and finding 
his sons and clerks plodding at the desk "Tous, sous, 
how is this? I always put my shutters up on this 

In May, 1743, he married a sister of Sir Francis 
Gosling, Alderman, afterwards Lord Mayor, and as 
she brought him a fortune and fifteen children, the 
match may probably be considered a prosperous one. 

Orthodox in his views, and true in business to the 


professions he held out privately, Wesley and Whit- 
field had to go elsewhere for a publisher, although 
there must have been plenty of temptation to incline 
the trade to patronise Methodism, for Coote, in a 
comedy of his, published in 1757, makes a bookseller 
say : " I don't deal in the sermon way now ; I lost 
money by the last I printed, for all 'twas by a Metho- 
dist." But John Rivington would have none of them, 
and in 1752 we find him publishing "The Mischiefs 
of Enthusiasm and Bigotry : an Assize Sermon by 
the Rev. R. Hurd ;" and about 1760 he was appointed 
publisher to the venerable " Society for the Promotion 
of Christian Knowledge" an office that remained in 
the family for upwards of seventy years. Dissent in 
itself was injurious enough to his interests, but when 
Wilberforce and Hannah More succeeded in making 
a portion of the Church "Evangelical," upwards of 
half his customers deserted to a rival shop in 

Some time before this he had admitted his sons, 
Francis and Charles, into partnership, and he was 
then appointed manager in general of the works pub- 
lished by his clique ; that is, of standard editions of 
Shakespeare, Milton, Locke, and other British classics, 
and of such religious works as were produced in an 
expensive and bulky form ; and of these works, two 
especially, Dr. Dodd's " Commentary," and Cruden's 
"Concordance" stand out so prominently that some 
slight account of their authors may not be unaccept- 

William Dodd was a man of great learning, and a 
very popular preacher in the metropolis, and in 1776, 
when he was appointed chaplain to the King, took 
his degree of LL.D. Ambitious and fond of display 


he found himself in debt, and determined to make a 
bold effort to secure the Rectory of St. George's, 
Hanover Square. To her great surprise the wife of 
Lord Chancellor Apsley received an anonymous letter 
offering her ^"3000 if she would procure Dr. Dodd's 
presentation to the parish. This insulting proposal 
was traced to Dodd, and the King ordered that he 
should be deprived of his chaplaincy. This disgrace, 
of course, involved him still further, and to extricate 
himself from these difficulties he was tempted to forge 
the name of his pupil, Lord Chesterfield, to a bond 
for 4.200. On the discovery of the forgery, Mr. 
Manley, a solicitor, called upon the doctor with the 
bill, leaving it on the table in a room where a fire 
was burning, when he went out for the obvious pur- 
pose of refreshment. Dr. Dodd appears to have been 
too honest to destroy the fatal document, and he was 
afterwards tried and condemned for forgery, and, spite 
of all the strenuous efforts of his friends, was exe- 
cuted on 27th of June, 1777. 

Alexander Cruden, one of the most useful men 
who have ever followed the painstaking and praise- 
worthy profession of index-making, was born in Aber- 
deen in 1701. An unfortunate passion, which was 
treated by its unworthy object with great contumely, 
weakened his senses, and on the discovery that the 
girl he worshipped was pregnant by her own brother, 
he went for a short time entirely out of his mind. On 
his recovery, he was sent to London in the hopes 
that the difficulty of obtaining position and liveli- 
hood might act tonically. At one of the first houses 
at which he called, the door was opened by the 
wretched girl herself, and poor Cruden rushed off 
wildly and vacantly into the streets. For many 


years he was a bookseller, doubly entitled, therefore, 
to a notice here, and upon the counter of his shop, 
under the Royal Exchange, his famous and laborious 
"Concordance "was compiled. Queen Caroline, to whom 
it was dedicated, unluckily died before publication, 
and the downfall of the expectations he had formed 
from her patronage was too much for the author, and 
his friends were compelled to place him in a lunatic 
asylum. Having made his escape, he brought an 
action against his relatives for false imprisonment 
offering his sister the choice of Newgate, Reading and 
Aylesbury jails, and the prison at Windsor Castle. 
He was never insane in the eyes of his employers, 
and as a corrector of the press, especially in the 
finer editions of the classics, his services were in- 
valuable. Henceforth he adopted the name of "Alex- 
ander the Corrector," as expressive of his character 
of censor general to the public morals. Armed with a 
large sponge, his favourite and incessant weapon, he 
perambulated the town, wiping out all obnoxious 
signs, more especially " Number 45," then rendered 
famous by Wilkes. Giving out, too, that he had a 
commission from above to preach a general reforma- 
tion of manners, he made the attempt first among the 
gownsmen at Oxford, and then among the prisoners 
at Newgate ; but in neither case did he meet with 
much encouragement. He asked for knighthood from 
the King, and a vacant ward from his fellow-citizens ; 
and on refusal said that he possessed the hearts if not 
.the hands of his friends. He was found dead on his 
knees, apparently in a posture of prayer, at his lodg- 
ings in Islington on November 1st, 1770. 

Samuel Richardson appears to have entertained 
grateful remembrance of the commission to write the 


" Familiar Letters to and from several Persons upon 
Business and other Subjects," for on his death he left 
a mourning ring to James Rivington. 

During Dodsley's illness, Rivington and his sons 
managed the Annual Register, and when on his death 
it was sold to Orridge and others, they started an 
annual of their own, which lasted till 1812, and then 
till 1820 was in abeyance, resumed again till 1823, 
and in the following year the two were merged into 
one, and after being published for a few years by the 
Baldwins, its management returned again to their 
own hands. Through the Register they were brought 
into connection with Burke, and were subsequently 
publishers of his more important works. 

At all times the Rivingtons took a very great in- 
terest in the Stationers' Company ; this was especially 
the case with James, who served as master, and at the 
same time he, his two brothers, and his four sons 
were all members of the livery. He held many 
public appointments, was in commission of the peace, 
a governor of most of the Royal hospitals, and a 
director of the " Amicable Society," and of the Union 
Fire Office. 

He died, universally regretted, on the i6th of Feb- 
ruary, 1792, in his seventy-second year, and was 
followed by his widow in the succeeding October. 

Owing to the split we have referred to in his 
business, and to his uniform generosity, the fortune 
he left behind him was not large indeed, money 
hoarding has been an attribute of none of the Riving- 
ton family. 

His two elder sons, Francis and Charles, carried on 
the business vigorously. Another son, Robert, cap- 
tain of the " Kent "East Indiaman fell, gallantly 


defending his ship in the Bay of Bengal, and was 
thus celebrated in the Gentleman's Magazine : 

" His manly virtue mark'd the generous source, 
And naval toil confirm'd the naval force ; 
In fortune's adverse trial undismay'd, 
A seaman's zeal and courage he display'd ; 
For honour firmly stood, at honour's post, 
And gain'd new glory when his life he lost !" 

A fourth son John, a printer in St. John's Square, 
had died previously in 1785. 

The first important event in the new publishing 
house was the establishment of the British Critic, in 
which Nares and Beloe were conjoint partners with 
Francis and Charles Rivington. The British Critic 
was started in January, 1793, in monthly numbers of 
two shillings each, and by the end of the century 
attained a circulation of 3500. The editorship was 
entrusted to Nares, and with the assistance of Beloe 
it was conducted down to the forty-second volume in 
1813. William Beloe was some time librarian of the 
British Museum, but a stranger who had been ad- 
mitted to the print-room, having abused his confidence, 
and stolen some of the pictures, the librarian was 
somewhat unjustly asked to resign. Among the 
other contributors to the British Critic were Dr. Parr 
of whom Christopher North says, not unfairly, " in 
his character of a wit and an author one of the most 
genuine feather-beds of humbug that ever filled up a 
corner of the world " and Whittaker, author of the 
"History of Manchester." In 1813, the second series 
of the Critic was commenced, under the editorship of 
the Rev. W. R. Lyall, afterwards Dean of Canter- 
bury ; in 1825 the publication was made quarterly, 


and a third series began, which, however, only reached 
three volumes. 

Of all the literary men connected with the Riving- 
ton's of this era, none were more useful, and few 
deserve more grateful remembrance from posterity, 
than George Ayrscough -facile princeps of index 
makers. Originally a miller's labourer, he obtained a 
situation in the Rivingtons' shop, and was afterwards 
promoted to a clerkship in the British Museum ; soon 
after his further rise to the position of assistant 
librarian he took orders ; but it is as a maker of 
catalogues and indexes that he is still known ; and 
how great the labour and patient skill needful in com- 
piling the indexes to the Gentleman s Magazine, the 
Monthly Revieiv, and the British Critic must have 
been, all students can approximately guess from the 
immensity of labour saved individually by their use. 

John, the eldest son of Francis, was admitted a 
partner in 1810, and in 1819 they took a lease of No. 
3, Waterloo Place ; and so popular were they at the 
time that it is said Sir James Allen Park, one of 
the judges, came down to the new house before nine 
o'clock on New-year's Day, that he might enrol him- 
self as their first customer. In 1820 they determined 
to start a branch house for the sale of second-hand 
books and general literature, and John Cochrane was 
placed at the head of this establishment. He collected 
one of the finest stocks ever gathered, and published 
the best and most carefully compiled catalogue that 
had then been issued, extending to 815 pages, and 
enumerating 17,328 articles, many of the rarest kind. 
The business, however, entailed considerable losses, 
and was abandoned in 1827. 

On October 18, 1822, Francis Rivington, the senior 


partner, died, earning a character for high probity and 
sincere and unaffected piety. Like his father he had 
been a governor in many charitable institutions. 
" Such a man," says the author of his obituary notice, 
" cannot go unwept to the grave ; and the writer of 
this article, after a friendly intercourse of sixty years, 
is not ashamed to say that at this moment his eyes 
are moister than his pen " a quaint but sincere 
tribute. He had married Miss M. Elhill, sister of 
an eminent lead merchant, and four of his sons sur- 
vived him. 

In 1827 George and Francis, sons of Charles, 
joined the firm ; and in 1831, Charles, the younger of 
the two original brothers, was found dead on the floor 
of his dressing-room. In social life he was distin- 
guished by the mildness and complacence of his 
temper; and his conversation was invariably enlivened 
with anecdotes and memories of the literary men and 
clergymen with whom he had come in contact. 

The firm now, therefore, consisted of John, the son 
of the elder, and Francis and George, two sons of the 
younger brother. 

We shall see, in the following memoirs of the 
Parkers, how marvellously religious life was quick- 
ened at Oxford by the publication of Keble's 
" Christian Year." This feeling, intense in its inner 
nature as any of the revivals, culminated or fulminated 
in the publication of the " Tracts for the Times " 
the most important work, perhaps, with which the 
Rivingtons have ever been connected ; and worthy, 
therefore, of the scanty notice for which we can afford 
space here. The " Tracts for the Times " were com- 
menced in 1833, at a time, according to the writers, 
"when irreligious principles and false doctrines had 


just been admitted into public measures on a large scale 
.... when the Irish sees had been suppressed by the 

state against the Church's wish They were 

written with the hope of rousing members of the 
Church to comprehend her alarming position of 
helping them to realize the fact of the gradual growth, 
allowance, and establishment of unsound principles 
in her internal concerns ; and, having this object, they 
used spontaneously the language of alarm and com- 
plaint. They were written as a man might give notice 
of a fire or inundation, so as to startle all who heard 
him" (vol. iii. p. 3). As far as fulfilment of intention 
went in startling, the writers were perfectly successful. 
Exhibiting great talents, depth of thought, logical 
power, acuteness of reasoning, and an undoubted 
religious feeling, their effect was spontaneous. By one 
party, and an increasing one, the writers were wel- 
comed with a reverend love that almost forbade 
criticism, and by the other with the greatest uneasiness 
and suspicion. The chief writers in the series, for the 
"Tracts" continued to appear during the space of 
several years, were Newman, Pusey, Keble, and 
Williams. In Ireland the clergy were anxious to come 
over in a body, and greet them collectively. In Scot- 
land, Pusey and Newman were denounced at a public 
dinner as enemies to the established religion ; and at 
Oxford, where they were personally loved and re- 
spected, they were looked upon by a large portion of 
the members with peculiar distrust. Parties in the 
Church were formed, and claimed, or were christened 
after, the names of the writers such were originally 
the Puseyites and Newmaniacs. At length the famous 
"Number 90" appeared, and was thus greeted by the 
University : " Modes of interpretation such as are 


suggested in this tract, evading rather than explaining 
the sense of the 39 articles, and reconciling subscription 
to them with the adoption of errors which they were 
destined to counteract, defeat the object, and are in- 
consistent with the due observance of the above- 
mentioned statement." The Bishop of Oxford forbade 
their further publication, and shortly afterwards 
Newman, the author of "Number 90," showed his 
honesty by going over to the Roman Catholic Church. 

The publication of these "Tracts" still further 
strengthened the Rivingtons in their position of 
High Church publishers, and their business benefited 
considerably by the great increase of the High 
Church party. 

In 1827 a fourth series of the British Critic was 
commenced, incorporated with the Theological Revieiv. 
In 1843, however, in consequence of the extreme views 
that had been expressed in its pages, the publication 
was discontinued, to the very great regret of the 
clergy; the English Review, which started from its 
ashes, met with but little support, and lasted only till 


To complete our personal account of the firm : 
John Rivington, who married Anne, daughter of the 
Rev. John Blackburn, canon of York, died 2ist No- 
vember, 1841, at the age of 62. His son John 
was admitted a partner in 1836, and is the present 
head of the firm. George Rivington died in 1842, 
having retired on account of ill health in 1857, and in 
1859 Mr. Francis Rivington retired from active part- 
nership. The present representatives of the firm 
consist, therefore, of Mr. John Rivington, fifth in 
descent from the founder, and Mr. Francis Hansard 
Rivington, who is the sixth. 


In 1853 the firm removed their place of business 
from the ancient house in St. Paul's Churchyard, and 
consolidated it at 3, Waterloo Place, retaining nothing 
but some warehouses in Paternoster Row. In 1862, 
after an interval of thirty years, they re-acquired the 
agency of the Cambridge " Press " a famous manu- 
factory of Bibles, Prayer Books, and Church Services ; 
and in the next year, 1863, they opened branch houses 
at both Oxford and Cambridge an extension of 
business that, after a long life of 160 years, says 
something for the vitality of the firm. 

In treating of the Parkers, it will be necessary to 
bear in mind the essential fact that there were two 
distinct families of that name, both engaged in the 
publication of religious books, and both interested 
in the " Bible Press "the one at Oxford and the 
other at Cambridge ; and though its chief interest, 
as regards later years, will be centred in the younger 
(publishing) family, who began life in London, it will 
be necessary, according to our general plan, to give a 
preliminary glance at the elder family, whose name 
is more intimately connected with the University of 

The first of the Parkers with whom we need con- 
cern ourselves was Dr. Samuel Parker, sometime 
Bishop of Oxford. The product of a changeable age, 
he was a very Vicar of Bray. While at the University 
of Oxford, he affected to lead a strictly religious life, 
and entered a weekly society then called the " Gruel- 
lers," because their chief diet was water gruel ; and it 
was observed "that he put more graves into his 
porridge than all the rest." Formerly a noncon- 
formist, having once taken orders, he became chaplain 


to a nobleman in London, whom he amused with his 
humorous sallies at the expense of his old comrades 
the Puritans. During Charles's reign, his writings 
were distinguished by the bitterness of his attacks 
upon the dissenting party ; and on the accession of 
James he' was installed in the bishopric of Oxford, 
upon the death of Dr. Fell the famous subject of 
inexplicable dislike. He now embraced the Romish 
religion, "though," writes Father Peter, a Jesuit, "he 
hath not yet declared himself openly; the great 
obstacle is his wife, whom he cannot rid himself of." 
Finding the cause growing desperate, he sent a dis- 
course to James, urging him to embrace the Protestant 
religion. His authority in the diocese became con- 
temptible, and he died unlamented in 1687. He left, 
however, a son of his own name, an excellent scholar 
and a man of singular modesty, who married a book- 
seller's daughter, of Oxford, and had a numerous 
family, to support whom he not only wrote, but 
published, and himself sold, books of a learned class 
the most important of which was the "Bibliotheca 
Biblica." He died in 1730, and his son, Sackville 
Parker, was an eminent bookseller in the Turl, his 
shop being chiefly frequented by the High Church 
and non-juring clergy. He was one of the four 
octogenarian Oxford booksellers who all died between 
1795 and 1796, and whose united years amounted 
to 342. He was succeeded by Joseph Parker, his 

About the year 1790, Joseph Parker was apprenticed 
to Daniel Prince, whose successor, Joshua Cooke, was 
agent to the University Press, and thus he was able to 
become acquainted with the management of its publi- 
cations. The Bible Press was at this period in debt, 



and was an annual expense to the University, but 
Parker saw the feasibility of making it a profitable 
concern, and, by dint of strenuous persuasion, was, in 
1805, allowed to enter into partnership with the 
University Press, jointly with Cooke and Samuel 
Collingwood, the latter of whom attended to the 
printing, while the publishing business was left entirely 
in Joseph Parker's hands. Great difficulty was felt 
at first in borrowing money to meet that advanced by 
the University. In a few years, however, the debts 
were paid off, and large profits began to come in, and 
during his lifetime he was able to pay over upwards 
of 100,000 into the University chest, building in 
addition the new printing-office, at a cost of 40,000, 
investing large sums in " plant," and leaving a concern 
that was worth 10,000 a year to the partnership. 

For the seven years previous to 1815 the number of 
Bibles printed at Oxford was 460,500 ; Testaments, 
386,000 ; of prayer-books, 400,000 ; of catechisms, 
psalters, &c., 200,000 ; and the money received as 
drawback for paper duty amounted to 18,658 2s. 6d. 
For the same period at Cambridge the Bibles numbered 
392,000 ; the Testaments, 423,000 ; the Prayer-books, 
194,000 ; while the drawback was only upwards of 
1087 js. 6d. In addition to his interest in the Bible 
Press, which yielded him about 1000 a year, Joseph 
Parker, on the death of his regular trade partner, Han- 
well, became sole proprietorof the old-established book- 
selling business of Fletcher and Hanwell, in the Fleet, 
and, on the retirement of Cooke, succeeded to the 
office of " Warehouse-keeper," and also to the appoint- 
ment of agent for the sale of books published on the 
"Learned" side of the press ; the value of the books 
sold on this side amounted to from 3000 to 5000 


annually, while on the Bible side under his manage- 
ment the sales were something like 100,000 worth. 

By far the most important work, however, with 
which Joseph Parker's name is concerned, is Keble's 
" Christian Year." We believe that the first risk of 
publishing was insured by Sir John Coleridge; 
Nothing could be more unassuming than its first 
appearance in 1827, in two little volumes, without 
even the authority of an author's name. None of the 
regular literary journals noticed its publication, 
excepting a friendly greeting in a footnote to an 
article on another subject in the Quarterly Review. 
Appealing to no enthusiastic feelings, deprecating 
excitement, and courting no parties, silently and 
imperceptibly at first, but with increasing rapidity, it 
found its way among all sections of churchmen, and 
was the real commencement of that movement in the 
Church with which afterwards the "Tracts for the 
Times" were associated. At Oxford, when once its 
popularity was attained, its effects were marvellous ; 
young men dropped the slang talk of horses and 
women and wine, and went about with hymns upon 
their lips ; instead of the riotous joviality of " wines," 
the evening meetings became austere ; and even the 
most careless made some little temporary effort to be 
better and purer. Partaking of the nature of a revival 
among a better-educated and less-impressionable 
class than that usually affected by such movements 
its strongest outward symptoms were of longer than 
ordinary duration, and its inner effects much deeper. 

The most popular volume of poems of recent times, 
it is said in the number of its editions to have out- 
rivalled Mr. Tupper's works (we state a fact merely, 
with an apology for mentioning the two names 

20 2 


together) ; in less than twenty years, twenty-seven 
editions had been exhausted."* 

The author's profits, as well as the publisher's, were 
large, and the Rev. J. Keble devoted his portion of 
them to the entire reconstruction of his own church, 
that of Hursley, in Hampshire. 

In 1832 Joseph Parker retired from business, re- 
taining, however, his share in the Bible Press until his 
death in 1850. 

Mr. John Henry Parker, his nephew, was the son of 
John Parker, merchant, of the City of London, and was 
born in the year 1806. After receiving a good educa- 
tion at Dr. Harris's school at Chisvvick, he entered the 
bookselling trade in 1821, and was consequently fully 
prepared, eleven years later, to occupy the position 
just vacated by his uncle. 

Mr. John Henry Parker is known almost as well as 
an antiquarian, and as a writer on architecture, as a 
publisher. He continued his uncle's business at 
Oxford, and extended it to London, where for many 
years it was under the management of Mr. Whitaker. 
The University, however, bought in again the share 
held by his uncle, in 1850, and declined admitting 
Mr. J. H. Parker as a partner unless he undertook to 
give up general business, as by a clause in the deed of 
partnership none of the temporary proprietors are 
allowed to follow any other calling. Mr. Parker's 
business was in such a profitable condition as to 
render such a step totally out of the question. He 
acted, however, as agent for the Oxford Press for 
many years. 

* It was from the intricacy of thought of some few of the poems of 
the "Christian Year, "that Sydney Smith christened it by the name of 
"The Sunday Puzzle." 


In 1856 the Gentleman's Magazine was transferred 
to his house, and for some time he was, with two 
other gentlemen, conjoint editor; and in 1863 he 
retired in favour of his son James, devoting his time 
exclusively to the study of architecture. Among his 
best-known writings are " The Glossary of Architec- 
ture," and " An Introduction to the Study of Archi- 
tecture," both of which are considered standard works 
on the subject. 

In 1863, the year of his retirement, the agency of the 
works published by the delegates of the Oxford 
University Press was transferred to Messrs. Mac- 
millan and Co., and the ancient connection was alto- 
gether broken. Mr. James Parker, however, still 
continues the Oxford book-trade, though we believe 
the London house does the more important business. 

Having dealt thus cursorily with the firm of John 
Henry and Joseph Parker, of London and Oxford, we 
come to the somewhat similar title of John William 
Parker and Son, of the West Strand, London. 

John William Parker,* whose father was in the 
navy, was born in the year 1793, and at an early age 
entered the service of the late Mr. Clowes, printer, 
then only commencing business, and, at the age of 14, 
was bound apprentice to him. Here he took a strong 
dislike to the irksomeness of case, and it was found 
more profitable to employ him in the counting-house 
generally, where his retentive memory and his habits 
of close observation were quickly turned to good 
account. When, indeed, most of the records were 
destroyed by the outbreak of a fire, young Parker's 

* For the facts in the earlier portion of this memoir we are indebted to 
an interesting obituary notice in the Bookseller. 


memory was found most essential as a substitute for 
the current business documents. 

Messrs. Clowes commenced their printing establish- 
ment in a very small way, but soon progressed, and 
were among the first to use the steam press ; but as 
they were then in Northumberland Court, Strand, 
their neighbour, the Duke of Northumberland, brought 
an action against them for causing a nuisance, and 
eventually bought them out of their tenement, and 
Parker induced Clowes to purchase the lease and 
plant of a factory in Duke Street, Stamford Street, 
which had been started unsuccessfully by Applegarth, 
the inventor of the steam press. Here, undisturbed 
by neighbouring aristocrats, Parker became the 
manager of the business, and it prospered so exceed- 
ingly that he established a printing-press of his own in 
the immediate vicinity, and found it necessary to live 
in Stamford Street, where he made the acquaintance of 
Dr. D'Oyley, Rector of Lambeth, Dr. Mant, and a 
number of other influential clergymen, whose connec- 
tion with the venerable " Society for the Promotion of 
Christian Knowledge" eventually stood him in good 

About the year 1828, the University of Cambridge 
found that the receipts from its Press were barely suf- 
ficient to cover the expenses, while at the .sister 
University, under the management of Collingwood 
and Mr. Joseph Parker, the annual returns were not 
only large, but increasing yearly. In this strait the 
Syndics applied to Mr. Clowes, who sent Mr. Parker 
down to inspect. The sensible manner in which he 
at once detected the faults of the establishment, and 
suggested improvements, led to his immediate engage- 
ment as advising printer at a salary of 200 ; and he 


soon proved his worth by turning to account the 
apparently useless stereotype plates ; from one set 
alone, in one year, he cleared i$oo by cutting out the 
heads of chapters, &c., and re-setting them in new 
type. He re-opened the account with the " Bible 
Society," and in dealing with the " Christian Know- 
ledge Society," abolished the tax of middlemen. 

Parker had hoped, by his energy and perseverance, 
to become a partner with Mr. Clowes, but finding this 
precluded by family arrangements, he established 
himself at 445, West Strand, and at once received the 
appointment of " publisher of the books issued under 
the direction of the Committee of General Literature 
and Education, appointed by the Society for Pro* 
moting Christian Knowledge." This " Committee" 
had been established to sanction and recommend 
books of a wholesome character, but which, not dealing 
chiefly with religious matters, were believed to be out 
of the legitimate sphere of the original Society's 

In July the first number of the Saturday Magazine 
appeared. Mr. Parker was his own editor, and many 
of the illustrations were from the pencil of 'his son, 
Mr. Frederick Parker, who died very young. The 
Saturday Magazine one of the three parents of our 
cheap periodical literature was published weekly at 
the low price of a penny, and, a repertoire of useful and 
entertaining facts, and not much else, was intended to 
counteract the effects of the licentious publications of 
the day, then the only ones within reach of the 
poorer classes. It was continued successfully for 
thirty-five volumes ; but is more interesting now as 
the foreshadowing of a better time than for any 
intrinsic value of its own. It was eventually merged 
in Parker s London Magazine, 


445, West Strand became, of course, the Cambridge 
Depository for Bibles, Testaments, and Common 
Prayer-books printed at the University Press, and, at 
the death of Smith, Parker was appointed printer to 
the University at a salary of 400 a year, and visited 
Cambridge once or twice a fortnight. For many 
years, in spite of all his strenuous efforts and his 
repeated advice, the Bible Society set their faces 
resolutely against steam-printing. On one occasion he 
prepared a large edition of the nonpareil Bible at two- 
thirds of the price then charged, and took a dozen 
copies to the manager, Mr. Cockle, hoping that the 
Bible Society would encourage so laudable an im- 
provement. The manager hummed and hawed, sent 
for the binder, told him in confidence that the Cam- 
bridge people had kindly prepared some cheap Bibles 
printed by machinery, but he thought " from the 
smallness of the margins they migJit not fold evenly, 
and was not sure that, as a cheaper ink had been 
used, they migJit not set off when pressed," and all 
these predictions were verified, and the Committee 
would not sanction the purchase of such rubbish. 
Strangely enough, two or three years later, when 
cheap Bibles were eagerly called for, the whole of the 
rejected set were purchased by the Society, and no 
difficulty was experienced in their manipulation. 

William IV. having expressed his royal wish for a 
Bible, Mr. Parker determined to print one specially, 
and on the occasion of the installation prepared a 
dozen sheets, which were pulled by the Duke of 
Wellington and other magnates ; this is the first book 
ever printed with red rules round, and, as the " King's 
Bible," attained in various forms and sizes a great 
success. A committee was appointed to read and 


revise it, and it was purposed to make it the standard 
edition. One copy upon vellum was intended for the 
King, but as he died before its completion, her present 
Majesty Queen Victoria was graciously pleased to 
accept it. After some years Parker's interest in the 
Bible Press flagged, and much dissatisfaction was 
caused, and about 1853 he retired altogether from the 

Parker had from a very early date thought of 
printing his own books, and started an office that was 
afterwards removed to St. Martin's Lane, but ul- 
timately relinquished the management to Mr. Har- 
rison, whom he took into partnership. When the 
Council of Education was formed Parker was ap- 
pointed publisher, and gave every assistance in the 
way of funds and encouragement, and Mr. Hullah, 
in particular, found in him a warm supporter. 

Parker was twice married ; by his first wife he had 
two sons, Frederick and John William, and this latter, 
born in 1820, after receiving a good education at 
King's College, was admitted into the house in 1843, 
and in a few years took the chief management of the 
general business. 

Under Mr. John William Parker, Jun., the house be- 
came identified with the Liberal and Broad Church 
party, and till his death he held the reins of Fraser's 
Magazine entirely in his own hands. Strangely had 
that periodical altered since the days of Maginn and 
Fraser. Now it was the centre, in connection with 
445, West Strand, from which issued the teachings of 
Maurice, Kingsley, and Tom Brown the nursery of 
muscular Christianity in one sense the cradle of 
Christian Socialism. 

Mr. Parker, Jun., in his capacity of publisher and 


editor felt an immense responsibility, and really be- 
lieved that the bishops of the Church of England 
held but sinecure offices, while he, and the heads of 
other publishing firms, were our virtual spiritual fathers 
and directors. He made himself no partizan in 
the religious and political questions of the day, and 
no prospect of pecuniary advantage would induce him 
to publish a book until he was first assured that it 
was the expression of honest conviction, or the result 
of honest labour. " One day," says the writer of an 
obituary notice, "going into Mr. Parker's room, we 
found his pale face paler than usual with anger. 
'Look at these,' he; said, putting a bundle of letters 
into our hands, 'or rather do not look at them.' A 
lady, eminent in certain circles as a spiritual teacher, 
wanted him to publish a devotional book for her. 
She had sent him the private correspondence of some 
thirty different ladies, who had trusted her with the 
innermost secrets of their souls and consciences, as an 
advertisement of herself, her abilities, and her popu- 
larity. Mr. Parker was perhaps never seen more in- 
dignant. He declined the book on the spot. He 
returned the letters with a regret that the lady 
should have sent him what had been intended for no 
eye but her own. A few days after he showed us 
the lady's reply. Stung by the rebuke, she had 
dropped the mask for the moment, and had told 
him she did not require to be lectured on her duty 
by an insolent tradesman." 

Of the success with which Mr. Parker's publications 
met it is sufficient to mention the names of Maurice, 
Kingsley, Mill, Buckle, and Lewis. Fruitful of dis- 
cussion as were the works of the writers mentioned, 


they were all thrown into a temporary shade by the 
cry that arose on the publication, in 1 860, of " Essays 
and Reviews," to which only the first named contri- 
buted. Shortly after the appearance of the volume a 
document was issued, bearing the signature of every 
bishop of the united Church, condemning many of 
the propositions of the book as inconsistent with an 
honest subscription to her formularies. This was 
succeeded by an address to the Archbishop of Can- 
terbury, signed by more than 10,000 clergymen, con- 
demning in the strongest terms the teaching of the 
essayists. As we all remember, the case was tried in 
the Court of Arches, and led to the temporary sus- 
pension of Dr. Williams and Mr. Wilson ; a sus- 
pension that was afterwards reversed by the Privy 
Council. But this case, interesting as it may be for 
the student in the future, though one of too many 
causes celebres of church persecution, is too well 
known to detain us longer at present. 

Mr. Parker, who took a deep interest in all religious 
questions, held weekly gatherings at his house, and 
was loved and respected by his clients, who regarded 
him as a friend rather than a business aid. He died 
in 1 86 1, and for the moment the knot of earnest men 
who were clustered round Eraser's Magazine were 
dispersed. But in the year 1863 the agency of the 
works published by the delegates of the Oxford 
University Press was transferred from the other 
Parkers to Messrs. Macmillan, and henceforth Macmil- 
lan's Magazine and its contributors may be con- 
sidered as an offshoot from 445, West Strand. 

After the death of his son, Mr. Parker, who had 
for some years taken little active part in the manage- 
ment of the business, took his old assistant; Mr. Wil- 


liam Butler Bown, into partnership ; but the con- 
nection did not last long, and in 1863 the stock and 
copyrights were disposed of to Messrs. Longman, 
who agreed to allow Mr. Bown an annuity of ?$o 
a year, which he only lived a year and a half to 

On May :8th, 1870, Mr. John William Parker died 
at his country house near Farnham. By his first 
wife he left two daughters living, and by his second 
(the daughter of Dr. Mantell, the well-known geolo- 
gist) one son and two daughters. He was seventy- 
eight years of age at the time of his death ; and, 
though his life presents us with little that is striking 
or historically strange, he had played an honest part 
manfully, and may be remembered as one of the few 
instances in which a publisher, successful as an archi- 
tect of his own fortune, has been wise enough to 
transfer his business at the very zenith of its success 
to the keeping of other hands, when he had as- 
certained that his oWn were too aged for its proper 
maintenance and management. The Broad Church, 
so called, and the liberal thought of the country, owe 
much to the now defunct firm of John William Parker 
and Son. 

JAMES NISBET, the son of a poor Scotch farmer, 
who afterwards became a cavalry Serjeant, was born 
on Feb. 3rd, 1785. After receiving the ordinary 
rudiments of education he was apprenticed to Mr. 
Wilson of Kelso for three years, but having obtained 
the offer of a situation in London he was permitted to 
leave before his indentures had expired. He left 
Scotland with only four guineas in his purse, and 
being delayed on the road, was obliged to sell his 


violin. On reaching town he became clerk to a Mr. 
Hugh Usher, a West India merchant in Moorfields, 
and his salary commencing at $4 I2s. per annum 
took some years before it increased to 120. 

James Nisbet's career has been to a certain extent 
chronicled by his son-in-law, the Rev. J. A. Wallace, 
in a volume entitled, " Lessons from the Life of James 
Nisbet, the Publisher " not, says the author, " a mere 
biography " would that it were ! but a series of forty 
chapters or lessons, each commencing with a text and 
ending with a hymn. To its rambling and incoherent 
pages we are indebted, however, to many of the facts 
in the following notice. 

On the evening of Nisbet's arrival in London a 
young Scottish friend took him about sight-seeing. 
The walk terminated in a blind alley and a strange 
looking house which instinct at once told him was 
" the house of the destroyer." He gave up intercourse 
with his companion, and fled away hastily, and not 
till some few days afterwards, when he found a refuge 
in the Swallow Street Chapel., did he recover his 

From his earliest boyhood he had a great liking 
for " the courts of the Lord ;" a pocket-book dated 
1805, contains a list of places at which the gospel 
was reported to be purely preached. It seems, too, 
that his favourite books at this time were Henry's 
" Commentary," Cruden's " Concordance," Hall's 
" Contemplations/' and Baxter's " Saints' Rest." At 
the Swallow Street Chapel he met his future wife. 

As befitted a persevering and energetic man he 
was an early riser, yet he found that not only did his 
business require it, but he discovered "our Lord 
when on earth rising a great while before day that 


He might spend some time in secret prayer, and 
David says, ' Early will I seek Thee.' ' So good a 
habit scarcely needed so lofty an apology. 

His father appears to have remonstrated with him 
as to his excess of zeal : " Concerning the meetings 
you attend, God Almighty never designed man to 
spend all his time in godliness ; He designed such as 
you and me to work for our bread" advice that 
had not much effect, for we find Nisbet writing when 
down home in Scotland in 1808, "I have lost much 
time in coming here no Thursday night sermons, no 
companion with whom I would wish to be on intimate 
friendship, and no Sabbath schools ; and the Sabbath 
is a very poor Sabbath, very unlike our dear Sabbath 
in London." 

Having, however, returned to London in 1809, he 
commenced business for himself on a very limited 
scale as a bookseller in Castle Street, and character- 
istically the first books sold were copies of Streeter's 
" Catechism." In due course of time he prospered, was 
admitted to the freedom of the City of London, and 
elected to the office of Renter Warden in the 
Stationers' Company. 

As soon as his reputation as a religious publisher 
was established, he purchased a house in Berners 
Street "the great object of his ambition being, not 
to amass a large fortune for aggrandisement, but to 
be the pious proprietor of a comfortable dwelling, 
which he could throw open for the hospitable enter- 
tainment of godly men." 

He firmly adhered to his principles of publishing 
books of one peculiar class, and rigidly excluded 
everything that was not of a moral or religious 
character ; and not satisfied with purchasing the 


copyright of his authors upon highly advantageous 
terms, often added a liberal bonus when the work 
proved profitable. " To such a degree," says his bio- 
grapher, " did his generosity overflow, that one estima- 
ble man, 'whose praise is in all the churches/ felt 
constrained to put the curb on his publisher's largesse. 
r I shall agree to accept one hundred pounds, and no 
more,' commences one of his legal agreements." 

Such conduct had its reward, for, says Mr. Wallace, 
" notwithstanding the humble position which James 
Nisbet occupied as a mere shopkeeper, so high was 
the estimation in which he was held as a philanthropist 
and a churchman that he was occasionally honoured 
by pressing invitations from families in the higher 
ranks of life, to visit them at their country seats" 
the lesson drawn from such amazing condescension 
by the biographer being, " Him that honoureth I will 
honour " and accordingly Nisbet went for a whole 
week to Tollymore Park, and naturally writes from 
there : " What a blessed thing it is to be a Christian." 
The curious chapter in which this visit is recorded is 
headed, " Yea, brother, let me have joy of thee in the 

Among the numerous authors with whom Nisbet 
was connected was Edward Irving, for whom he pub- 
lished " Discourses on Daniel's Vision of the Four 
Beasts," and other books. Irving, by far the greatest 
orator and most eloquent speaker of our later times, 
" was for long enshrined in the warm recesses of 
Nisbet's heart, and Nisbet not only sat under him, but 
contributed 21,000 to the Regent's Square Church. 
But the love of truth was in Nisbet stronger than 
earthly affection, and soon the gift of speaking with 
unknown tongues was discovered." " Last Sabbath," 


writes Nisbet, " a most tumultuous scene took place, 
the lives of many people being in jeopardy, so 
that even Mr, Irving himself was terrified, and said 
that he would not allow the spirits to speak again in 
public." He was then accused of heresy, and Nisbet, 
like most conscientious men, felt constrained to side 
against him. An ecclesiastical assize was holden for 
his trial, in March, 1833, at which a strange scene 
occurred. His answer to the charge was rather an 
authoritative command than an apology, perorating 
thus : 

" I stand here not by constraint, but willingly. Do 
what you like. I ask not judgment of you ; my 
judgment is with my God ; and as to the General 
Assembly, the spirit of judgment is departed from it. 
Oh, know ye not how near ye are to the brink of 
destruction. Ye need not expedite your fall. All are 
dead carrion. The Church is struggling with many 
enemies, but her word is within herself I mean this 
wicked assembly." 

Then after the trial he was found guilty, and the 
sentence of deposition was about to be prefaced with 
prayer, when a loud voice was heard from behind a 
pew where Irving stood : " Arise, depart ! arise, 
depart ! flee ye out, flee ye out of here ! ye cannot 
pray ! How can ye pray ? How can ye pray to 
Christ whom ye deny ? Ye cannot pray. Depart, de- 
part ! flee, flee !" The church was at this moment 
wrapped in silent darkness, and when this strange 
voice ceased, the 2000 sprang trembling to their feet 
as though the judgment day had come. On lighting 
a candle, however, it was ascertained that the speaker 
was a Mr. Dow, who had been lately ousted from the 
church for similar views. Irving rose grandly to obey 


the call, and pressing through the crowd that thronged 
the doorway and the aisles he thundered : " Stand 
forth ! stand forth ! what, will ye not obey the voice 
of the Holy Ghost ? As many as will obey the voice 
of the Holy Ghost, let them depart!" Onward he 
'went to the door, and then came to the last words : 
" Prayer, indeed, oh !" and thus he left his church for 

Thousands and almost millions of tracts and small 
books did Nisbet scatter broadcast, freely to those 
who could not pay, with small charge to those who 
could. And at the period of the " Disruption " he 
circulated at his own expense, not only in Scotland 
and Ireland, but all over England, great multitudes 
of Dr. James Hamilton's " Farewell." But even in the 
midst of these labours the ungodly were busy, and a 
rumour was circulated that James Nisbet had gone 
over to the Church of Rome ; and this, in spite of his 
well-known antipathies, gained considerable credence. 
The following is from a letter from Mr. Wolff : " I, a 
few days ago, read in the Morning Post that an emi- 
nent and successful bookseller had entered the Church 
of Rome. I thought that this bookseller must be one 
of the Tractarian party (the Rivingtons), but to my 
utter astonishment I heard it whispered that the 
bookseller was nobody else than Mr. James Nisbet, his 
whole family, and my old friend Mr. Murray, with the 
observation that ' one extreme leads to the other ex- 
treme,' . . . My dear Nisbet and Murray, what could 
induce you to do such a spite to your John Knox, 
Chalmers, and Gordon, and join with a rotten church ? 
Nobody is more impatient in acknowledging the good 
things to be found in the Church of Rome than my- 
self, yet I would rather see the Pope and all his 



cardinals fly to the moon than become a Papist again. 
In fact I never was one." (A curious way of putting 


This was not the only hoax by which James Nisbet 
was a sufferer. Later on, a practical joke was played 
upon him by some wag, who sent the following to a 
large number of country papers : 

"Nearly Ready, in Three Handsome Octavo Volumes, 
"LITERARY PYROTECHNICS; or, Squibs, Pasquins, Lampoons, 
and other Sparkling Pleasantries, by the best English Writers, from 
the Reign of Elizabeth to the Present Day, with Philological Notes by 
the Hon. the Vice-Chancellor Sir William Page Wood, Knt. 
"James Nisbet and Co., Berners-street, London." 

This very advertisement was directed to be inserted 
in the next issue, and a copy of the paper containing 
the advertisement was to be sent to the publisher with 
the price of inserting it four or six times. About one 
hundred papers fell into the snare, to James Nisbet's 
horror and amazement. 

Nisbet was a very charitable man to all of his way 
of thinking. The " Saints " were freely welcomed to 
his hospitable house, which was used as a free hotel 
by travelling missionaries and preachers, who often 
said a grateful " grace for all the rich mercies of his 
table." He was one of the chief supporters of the 
Fitzroy Schools, and one of the most zealous founders 
of the Sunday School Union. Nor was he wanting 
in generosity to general and more publicly useful 
charities ; and, during a period of thirty years, his 
books show that he collected for more than five 
hundred institutions, and that the total amount that 
passed through his hands was 114,339 i6s. ^d. 

It is pleasant, amid the farrago of religious cant and 
trash with which the "Lessons from his Life" are 


surrounded, to find some glimmering of the real man 
the enterprising and successful bookseller. " From 
his energy of character, and from habit, he was more 
accustomed to lead others than to be led himself; 
therefore, any attempt to alter or set aside arrange- 
ments which he had himself devised . . . was almost 
sure to meet with, on his part, a strenuous and detef- 
mined resistance." 

In 1854, when the cholera was raging in London, 
his brave conduct was far above any party praise, 
The position of chairman of the Middlesex Hospital 
devolved temporarily upon him, and fearlessly he 
set about his difficult duty. Day after day he was at 
his post, directing all things, and alleviating, with 
every means in his power, the physical sufferings of the 
patients ; and still, while adopting all that was proper 
to check the progress of the disease, not unmindful of 
administering the consolations of religion. 

He died on the 8th November, 1854, having been 
seized with a violent illness on his return from a 
before-breakfast visit to the Orphan Working School 
at Haverstock Hill. 

In a funeral sermon, preached by Dr. Hamilton at 
Regent's Square church, his character is thus summed 
up, both sides of it being cautiously exhibited : 
" With a sanguine temperament, he had strong con- 
victions and an eager spirit ; and, whilst he sometimes 
magnified into an affair of principle a matter of 
secondary importance, he was impatient of opposition, 
and did not always concede to an opponent the 
sincerity he so justly claimed for himself. Then, 
again, his openness was almost excessive, and his 
determination to flatter nobody sometimes led him to 
say things more plain than pleasant, , . . Those only 

21 2 


could appreciate his excellence who either knew his 
entire mode of life, or whose casual acquaintance was 
confined to the walks of his habitual benevolence." 

As a publisher, he was eminently successful, and 
reaped a due reward for his honest industry ; never 
had he a bad debt but once, and, on recovering that 
unexpectedly, he presented the amount of it, in a 
silver service, to a church. The books he issued were 
chiefly of an ephemeral religious class, and literature 
is certainly less indebted to his success than were the 
charitable institutions of the day. 

Mr. James Murray, who had been Nisbet's partner 
in business for many years, succeeded to the command 
of the firm ; and, after his death at Richmond in June, 
1862, Mr. Watson, the present manager, was appointed 
by the family to superintend the whole concern. 



TN treating of "technical literature," we shall 
encounter many works which were rightly de- 
scribed by Charles Lamb as "books which are not 
books ; " and the present chapter will be interesting 
rather as containing biographical notices of men who 
thoroughly deserved, and thoroughly achieved, success, 
than for any bibliographical anecdotes we can lay 
before the reader. 

The value of technical literature, in a publishing 
point of view, had been correctly estimated in the 
very earliest times of bookselling annals, and Richard 
Tottell (or Tothill), an original member of the Sta- 
tioners' Company, and eventually their chairman, had 
in Edward the Sixth's reign, and subsequently in 
Queen Elizabeth's, succeeded in obtaining a patent 
for law-books ; and when, through the petition of the 
Stationers' Company, he was compelled to forego some 
of the works which he had thus monopolised, he warily 
" kept his law-books to himself, and yielded ' Dr. 
Wilson upon_Usurie/ and ' The Sonnets of th' Earle of 


Surrey.'" Tothill, however, did still publish other 
books than those relating to the very remunerative 
branch of law; for, in 1562, he produced " S tow's 
Abridgment of the Chronicles of England ;" and, in 
1590, "Tusser's Five Hundred Points of Good Hus- 
bandry." His name would, probably, have been 
unknown, at all events forgotten, had he not occupied 
the Hands and Star in Temple Bar, the very same 
shop which, two-and-a-half centuries afterwards, 
Henry Butterworth again rendered famous as the 
great emporium of legal books. 

Tothill was succeeded by John More (he had been 
previously represented, but only for awhile, by Barker 
and others), and we have already seen that Samuel 
Richardson, and Lintott's granddaughter, had obtained 
the patent of King's Printers for legal books ; this 
brings us up in date to, at all events, the uncle of the 
subject of our present memoir. 

Henry Butterworth, the most famous of all our law- 
publishers, was born on 28th February, 1786, in the 
city of Coventry. His father was a wealthy timber- 
merchant, and his ancestors fairly claimed alliance 
with the great county families, though Butterworth 
Hall, in the township of Butterworth, near Rochdale, 
in their possession since Stephen's reign, had already 
fallen into alien hands. The Rev. John Butterworth, 
his grandfather, had removed from Rochdale to 
Coventry ; he was well known as the author of a 
" Concordance to the Holy Scriptures," which passed 
through several editions, and was the received work 
upon the subject until the appearance of Cruden's 
more famous " Concordance." 

Young Henry Butterworth was educated at the 
Public Grammar School, in Coventry, and afterwards 
placed under the tutorial care of Dr. Johnson, of 


Bristol ; but at the early age of fourteen, his education 
(inasmuch as book-learning was concerned) was con- 
sidered at an end, and he entered the large sugar- 
refinery of Mr. Stock, of Bristol. But the hot atmo- 
sphere, and the incessant and laborious toil, proved 
too much for young Butterworth's health, though the 
work had otherwise been rendered pleasant enough 
through his master's kindness. As he had already 
shown much business talent and ability, Stock urged 
Mr. Joseph Butterworth, his own relation by marriage, 
and Henry Butterworth's uncle, to do something for 
the lad. Joseph Butterworth accordingly made over- 
tures to Henry's family, and though they were loath to 
send their son to the distant trials and temptations of 
the metropolis, the offer was a tempting one, as it 
contained a tacit promise of admitting him, at some 
future time, to a partnership in the enormous business. 
Young Butterworth at once determined to accept the 
proposal ; and on the 5th December, 1801, he arrived 
in London by the Bristol coach, having left Bristol 
straightway, without even having had an opportunity 
of bidding his relatives farewell. 

The business carried on at No. 43, Fleet Street, was 
on a very extensive scale, and Joseph Butterworth was 
not only a well-known member of Parliament, but was 
an exceedingly wealthy and zealous philanthropist ; 
and at his uncle's dinner table young Henry Butter- 
worth met many eminent and good men who were 
associated together to fight in a common cause among 
others we may particularize Wilberforce, Teignmouth, 
Liverpool, Bexley, Zachary Macaulay, and Robert 
and Charles Grant and from the time of his first 
introduction he enrolled his name among these ardent 
religious and social reformers. 

Young Butterworth entered very heartily into the 


conduct of his uncle's business, and, owing to his 
efforts, its relations were very vastly extended. 

In 1813 he was in a position to marry a lady of 
birth and fortune, the daughter of Captain Whitehead, 
of the Fourth Irish Dragoon Guards, who not only 
afterwards entered fully into all his philanthropic 
projects, but possessed a refined and cultivated intel- 
lect, which found utterance in a volume of " Songs and 
Poems," by E. H. B., published by Pickering in 1848, 
which are evidently, as the authoress says of another 

f< An offering from a heart sincere. " 
Tho' small and worthless, what I send, 
Tis hallowed by affection's tear." 

In 1818, Butterworth found that there was little 
likelihood of his admission, as had been previously 
agreed upon, to a .satisfactory share of his uncle's 
business ; and having now to consider not only his 
own interests, but the welfare of a wife and family, he 
determined, with a sense of disappointment, to seek 
an independent roof, and there to carry out, on his own 
account, the art and mystery of law printing. 

Before we follow him to his new abode, we will 
devote a few words to his uncle's successful career. 
Joseph Butterworth, who had, in connection with 
Whieldon, founded a very large law-publishing busi- 
ness, realized, it is said, the largest fortune ever made 
by law publishing, and was one of the original founders 
of the British and Foreign Bible Society, its earliest 
meetings being held at his house in Fleet Street. His 
son died before him, and his business was sold to 
Messrs. Saunders and Benning ; and after various for- 
tunes, the shop became the Bible warehouse of Messrs. 


Henry Butterworth, supported by his father's 
capital, took a lease of No. 7, Fleet Street, a house 
which had been, as we have seen previously, occupied 
by Tothill and other ancient law publishers. And 
from this shop were issued the vellum-bound volumes 
whose contents are sacred to all but those assiduously 
apprenticed to the law. Butterworth's position was 
still further improved by his appointment to the 
profitable post of Queen's law publisher. To the 
general student the law-books of the period are as 
little known as they were to that worthy country 
justice who, wishing to learn something definite about 
the law he so zealously administered, told his book- 
seller to send him forthwith the "Mirror for 
Magistrates ;" and the vastly popular law-books did 
not, of course, come within the province of the 
technical publisher. Butterworth, however, saw the 
decline of two works which had been regarded as 
time-honoured text-books on the subject Burn's 
"Justice " and Blackstone's " Commentaries." Many 
booksellers had made large fortunes out of Burn since 
the time when the author, wearied out with carrying 
his manuscript from shop to shop, had accepted a 
nominal fee to get it off his hands ; and now Butter- 
worth, by publishing Serjeant Stephen's celebrated 
" Commentaries on the Laws of England " the most 
successful law- work of modern times erased Black- 
stone from the category of legal text-books. 

Butterworth, however, though energetic as a pub- 
lisher, found time to take part in the government of 
the city. In 1823 he was elected as representative of 
the ward of Farringdon Street Without, but he after- 
wards declined to be nominated to the office of sheriff. 
However, his connection with the city was still further 


strengthened by his appointment as Commissioner of 
Income and Property Tax, and Land and Assessed 
Taxes for London, and also as Commissioner of 
Roads. On his first arrival in town he had served in 
a light volunteer regiment, recruited to resist the 
aggression of the great Napoleon ; and on his retire- 
ment from the corporation, about the year 1841, he 
received a captain's commission in the Royal London 

We gather something of Butterworth's general 
kindness and consideration to those beneath him in 
station from the following anecdote : Shortly after 
the passing of the new Poor Law Act in 1834, the 
guardians of the West Surrey Union ordered that the 
annual Christmas dinner for the workhouse inmates 
should consist, as wont, of roast beef and plum-pudding. 
The Poor Law Board a new broom was horrified 
at this munificence, and sent down their inspector, 
Dr. Kay, to inquire into the proposed extravagance. 
He offered a compromise by substituting boiled beef 
for roast, not that it would be in any degree cheaper, 
but that (a satisfactory object, we suppose, to the 
Board) it would not be quite so palatable. Butter- 
worth, who was one of the guardians, was inflexible, 
and finally sent in his resignation ; but as he was too 
useful a local authority to be spared, the Board sent 
back the resignation, and permitted the paupers to 
feast upon the disputed beef, roast. 

In his later years Butterworth took much interest in 
church-building, and at Tooting, St. Dunstan's-in-the- 
West, and his native city of Coventry, he subscribed 
large sums for that purpose. 

After the death of his wife, which occurred in 1853, 
he gradually withdrew from general society, though he 


still attended the congenial meetings of the Stationers' 
Company. The day of his death was, curiously 
enough, the most important day in the law publishing 
year the first day of term 2nd November, 1860. 
On the previous evening he had given his annual 
admonition to those around him in business to awake 
up from the lethargy of the long vacation, and on the 
following morning it was found that he had passed 
away, as if in sleep. 

For nearly sixty years Butterworth had occupied a 
leading position as a publisher and as a citizen, and 
during that period had won the friendship and respect 
of all who came in contact with him. The alms 
which' his industry enabled him to make were con- 
scientiously, quietly, and discriminatingly bestowed : 
and the painted glass memorial window erected to 
him in the choir of the Cathedral of St. Paul's was a 
fitting tribute from a very large number of friends 
and admirers, many of whom had experienced the 
kindly assistance of his friendship and advice. 

As we have previously seen, divinity and education 
were among the first subjects to attract a special 
attention, and works relating to them would otherwise 
have come within our category of technical books. 
No sooner, however, were the lawyers fairly supplied 
with special text-books than the doctors began to 
clamour for the like, and the^publisher who has of all 
others most zealously administered to their wants is 
still happily amongst us. 

John Churchill was born about the commencement 
of the century, and was apprenticed in the year 1816 
to Messrs. Cox and Son, medical booksellers in South- 
wark. " The house of business was/' he says, " immq- 


diately adjoining Guy's and St. Thomas's Hospitals, 
and became the daily resort of the lecturers and 
numerous students of the schools ; I thus early in life 
became known to the celebrated men of the day, little 
anticipating that eventually I should become the 
publisher of Guy's and St. Thomas's Hospital Reports, 
and of so large a proportion of the works that issued 
from the medical press." 

At the time when young Churchill entered the pro- 
fession of medical publishing, the periodicals, and, of 
course, the standard technical works, presented a 
striking contrast to those at present in existence, for 
now the medical profession assert, with the greatest 
truth, that their special organs are of far higher 
intrinsic worth, and of far better " tone " of thought 
and expression, than those relating to any other purely 
technical subject. For years, however, after Churchill 
became a bookseller's assistant the medical press was 
only on a par with the papers relating to the other 
professions, and was chiefly represented by the Medico- 
CJiirurgical Review, founded by J. Johnson in 1820, 
and the Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal, 
a work we have already come across in our notice of 
Constable. These reviews contained no original 
reports, no strictures on the hospital appointments 
then jobbed, like everything else, to men of wealth, 
family, and interest. In fact, they consisted of little 
besides long and elaborate abstracts of new books. 

On Sunday, 2nd October, 1823, the first number of 
a journal that was to cause a great revolution in 
medical literature, and to affect in no slight degree 
the whole medical profession, was issued from a small 
publishing shop in the Strand. The journal was, of 
course, the Lancet, and the publisher young Thomas 


Wakley. Wakley had walked the united hospitals of 
Guy's and St. Thomas's, and had taken his degree in 
1817. He does not appear to have practised regularly 
till, about 1822, he took a small shop in the Strand, 
and with the assistance, in a pecuniary point of view, 
of Collard (now the senior partner of the famous piano 
factory) determined to start a thoroughly independent 
medical journal. The first number contained a report 
of a lecture by Sir A. Cooper, printed from memory. 
The professors and hospital officers fired up, and for 
long Wakley had to encounter the same difficulties 
and almost the same penalties which Cave had pre- 
viously undergone in commencing his reports of 
Parliamentary proceedings. As a former student, 
Wakley attended the lectures, and, like other students, 
was seen to take occasional notes. Cooper could not, 
however, bring the charge home till he hit upon the 
device of calling at midnight at his lodgings, and 
asking to see the " doctor " upon urgent medical 
business, when he surprised him red-handed correcting 
a proof-sheet of a lecture. The discovery was so 
sudden and so undeniable that neither could refrain 
from laughter ; and eventually Cooper, not ill- 
humouredly, offered to allow his lectures to appear if 
the proofs were first sent him for revision. Conse- 
quently, Cooper, though often criticised in the Lancet, 
never received a nickname, as did most of the other 
medical celebrities of the day. For instance, Brodie 
was known as the " little eminent ;" Earle, the " cock 
sparrow;" Mayo, the " owl ;" and Halford, the "eel- 

The Lancet, for many years, was hated by that 
part of the profession interested in vested rights, and 
eagerly patronised by general surgeons and students, 


The language of the Lancet was as violent as the many 
abuses it attacked could justify; and Cobbett, who 
was a friend and adviser of Wakley's, was adopted as 
a model, while a barrister, named Keen, used to join 
the party on printing nights to see that the free 
strictures were not legally liable as libels. An active, 
though unpaid, member. of the staff, was Lawrence, 
who, however, forsook his reforming principles when 
once he became a placeman, and was succeeded by 
Wardrop, whose scurrility, wit, and venom did much 
in giving the Lancet a lasting reputation for raciness of 
style and satirical power. They were shortly after- 
wards joined by Mr. J. F. Clarke, who edited the 
periodical for upwards of forty years, and to whose 
amusing and graphic autobiography we are indebted 
for much of the preceding details. The success of the 
Lancet soon enabled Wakley to enter Parliament as a 
representative of Finsbury, and he actually combined 
together the work of the legislator, the coroner, and the 
editor, often toiling unremittingly for eighteen conse- 
cutive hours. 

By the time the Lancet was thus firmly established, 
Churchill, long out of his apprenticeship, had com- 
menced medical publishing on his own account ; and 
from his famous shop, in New Burlington Street, issued 
most of the standard works upon the subject ; and, en- 
couraged by the success of the Lancet, he determined 
to make his establishment the centre of periodical, as 
well as more permanent, medical literature. In 1836, 
was started therefrom the British and Foreign Medical 
Review, conducted first by J. Forbes, and afterwards 
by J. C. Conolly. In 1848, it was merged into the 
Medico-Chirurgical Reinew t which, from 1824 to 1847, 


had been under the editorship of H. J. Johnson. These 
two were now amalgamated into the British and 
Foreign Medico-Chirurgical Review t which, dating from 
Churchill's establishment, has acquired a professional 
standing equal to that of the Edinburgh and Quarterly 
Reviews in more general criticism. In 1839, appeared 
the first number of the Medical Times and Gazette, 
which, under the editorial care of T. P. Healey, and 
subsequently of J. L. Bushman, has found a very large 
and influential clientele. 

The medical writers have at present something in 
common with the early authors. Their works bring 
them in more remuneration through eventual patron- 
age than from habitual sale, but their patronage is 
that of all the great public, who are waiting to have 
their ailments cured. As an instance of the way in 
which literature may improve the position of a medical 
man, it is stated by Mr. W. Clarke that, through 
Elliotson's clinical reports in the Lancet, his income 
was raised, in one year, from 500 to 5000. And 
yet, on the other hand, when he openly gave in his ad- 
herence to the newly-imported doctrine of mesmerism, 
his large public and private practice almost entirely 
deserted him ; and as the legitimate organs were closed 
to one so abandoned as even to experiment in " the 
unknown," he started a medico-mesmeric journal of 
his own, the Zoist, which was, of course, not published 
by Mr. Churchill. 

There is necessarily the same want of general interest 
in medical as in legal bibliography ; and, as in the 
latter case, works more popularly known were almost 
invariably published by the usual popular publishers. 
For instance, Dr, Buclian's" Domestic Medicine" pro- 


bably the most profitable medical book ever written 
(but not to the author, as he sold the copyright for 
five pounds), after being re-written by Smellie was 
issued in 1770, by the ordinary booksellers. During 
the author's lifetime, nineteen editions, each of five 
thousand, were published, and the volume was trans- 
lated into all the modern languages. 

If Mr. Churchill's catalogue can show no book with 
a popularity like this, it displays many which, appeal- 
ing only to a class audience, and necessarily obliged to 
keep pace with the discoveries of the day, have at once 
retained their high price and yet reached the honour of 
numerous editions. 

It is probably owing chiefly to this fact of an inces- 
sant demand by a large section of, at all events, one 
branch of students, that technical publishing has 
proved so remunerative, and has escaped, in a great 
degree, the risk attached to other departments of the 

I- At the close of the year 1870, Mr. Churchill resolved 
to give up the active management of his large busi- 
ness, and issued a farewell circular to the trade: 
" After fifty-five years' active and immediate associa- 
tion with your profession, I see it my duty to retire 
into private life. Be my future days few or many, I 
shall ever retain a lively sense of the many friendships 
I have formed, and of the unvarying proofs of confi- 
dence and regard shown to me through so long a series 
of years. My pathway of life has been a happy one, 
bringing me into daily correspondence with the elite of 
the profession, and united with them in promoting the 
interests of science and literature, while the success of 
my many publications has both gratified and amply 


rewarded my exertions. My sons, John and Augustus 
Churchill, have been eight years associated with me. I 
may be influenced by a father's feelings, but I believe 
I can honestly state that, by education, earnest purpose 
in the fulfilment of duty, a high sense of integrity 
guiding and regulating their transactions, they will be 
found worthy of your confidence, and thus maintain 
the character of the house whose reputation and busi- 
ness transactions have extended to all parts of the 
world." To this honest expression of well-earned busi- 
ness contentment, we can only add our wishes that Mr. 
Churchill's years of retirement may be as happy as his 
years of toil have been useful and beneficial. 

Among other technical publishers, Mr. Henry 
Laurie, whose house dates from the commencement of 
English hydrography, and whose numerous publica- 
tions are known wherever English navigation has ex- 
tended, requires at least a mention here. The oldest 
existing house of this nature, but one, in Europe 
(Gerard Hulst Van Keulen & Co., of Amsterdam, 
being the exception), it was founded by R. Sayer, at 
the "Golden Busk" (53, Fleet Street), in conjunction 
with John Senex, the well-known cosmographer. Here 
Cook's original charts were issued ; and it says some- 
thing for his accuracy that his " Survey of the South 
Coast of Newfoundland " has not yet been superseded. 
On Sayer's death, the business was relinquished to 
Robert Laurie and James Whittle, and, in 1812, the 
former was succeeded by his son, R. H. Laurie, who, 
on the death of Whittle, became sole proprietor. In 
a short time, the business extended to the production 
of illustrations of all descriptions, whilst the maps pro- 
duced, under the care of De la Rochette, John Purdy, 




and Mr. Findlay, still retained their pre-eminence ; 
the business was, however, again restricted to hydro- 
graphy. R. H. Laurie died as recently as January 
19, 1858, leaving two daughters, and the establishment 
was continued under the direction of his sole executor, 
Mr. Findlay. 



A FTER Dodsley's death, though poetry was at 
*^^ ' times far from being an unprofitable speculation, 
the publishers seem to have shunned it as a speciality; 
and, accordingly, a Constable, a Murray, and a 
Longman, though gathering large incomes from the 
sale of the works of some one or two great poets, placed 
their main reliance upon the prose compositions that 
administered to either the pleasure or the necessities 
of their public. 

For a time, Taylor and Hessey almost adopted 
poetical publications as the mainstay of their business; 
and in their generous encouragement of Keats, and 
others of lesser note, including Clare, are to be grate- 
fully remembered ; but their trade-life as poetical 
publishers was brief, and it remained for Edward 
Moxon to identify his name with all the best poetry 
of the period in which he lived, to a greater extent 
than any previous bookseller at any time whatsoever. 
Edward Moxon, not unlike some others of his craft ; 
began life with strong literary aspirations. His warm 
admiration for genius, his hearty good-fellowship, and 

22 2 


his longings for a literary career, brought him into 
contact with some of the greatest writers of the day, 
and attracted their support and friendship. As early 
as 1824 he was made a welcome member of the 
brilliant circle that owned Charles Lamb as its chief, 
and to be a protege of Lamb's was a passport 
into all literary society. In 1826, he published his 
first volume, " The Prospect ; and other Poems ;" and 
his friends received it with all possible kindness, as, 
perhaps, containing germs of something better. Even 
Wordsworth, usually very niggard of praise, wrote 
him a letter of encouragement and warning : l( Fix 
your eye upon acquiring independence by an honour- 
able business, and let the Muse come after rather than 
go before." But advice of this nature, even when 
given with the practical illustrations that Wordsworth's 
own career might have furnished, had little likelihood 
of being accepted by a young and impetuous poetaster; 
and in 1829 we find Moxon launching another venture 
on the world " Christmas, a poem " to be as coldly 
received by the "general public" as the former. 
What, however, the advice of a veteran poet could 
not effect, a stronger power was able to accomplish. 

During Lamb's residence at Enfield, their acquaint- 
ance ripened into a very frequent intercourse, and 
eventually resulted in Moxon's engagement to a young 
lady who spent most of her time under the protection 
of Lamb and his sister. Lamb had met Miss Isola 
some years before at Cambridge, and had taken so 
much interest in the little orphan girl, who was then 
living with her grandfather an Italian refugee, and a 
teacher of languages that by degrees he came to be 
looked upon as almost a natural guardian. Marriage, 
however, was out of the question until her lover had 


some more substantial manner of livelihood than the 
cultivation of the Muse seemed ever likely to afford 
him. In this strait, Rogers came forward and gene- 
rously offered to start him in life as a publisher, and, 
with the goal of matrimony in view, the offer was 
eagerly accepted. 

Accordingly, in 1830, Moxon opened a small pub- 
lishing shop at 34, New Bond Street. The first 
volume he issued was "Charles Lamb's Album Verses," 
and the dedication sufficiently explains its purpose : 

" DEAR MOXON, I do not know to whom a Dedi- 
cation of these trifles is more properly due than to 
yourself: you suggested the printing of them you 
were desirous of exhibiting a specimen of the manner 
in which the publications entrusted to your future 
care would appear. With more propriety, perhaps, 
the * Christmas,' or some of your own simple, unpre- 
tending compositions, might have served this purpose. 
But I forget you have bid a long adieu to the Muse 
... it is not for me nor you to allude in public to the 
kindness of our honoured friend, under whose auspices 
you are becoming a bookseller. May this fine-minded 
veteran in verse enjoy life long enough to see his 
patronage justified. I venture to predict that your 
habits of industry, and your cheerful spirit, will carry 
you through the world. 

"ENFIELD, ist June, 1830." 

An unfavourable notice of these " Album Verses " 
appeared in the Literary Gazette ; but Lamb was too 
well loved to lack defenders, and some verses in 
reply, by Southey, were soon afterwards inserted in 
the Times. 

In the following year the Englishman's Magazine 


came into Moxon's hands, and to its pages Elia lent 
the charm of his pen. Although it only lasted from 
April till October, its columns still present us with 
matter of literary interest. In the same number we 
find a sonnet signed "A. Tennyson," and a very 
long review upon " Poems, chiefly Lyrical, by Alfred 
Tennyson," written by his friend Arthur H. Hallam. 
This was almost Mr. Tennyson's first avowed ap- 
pearance in public; and as Mr. Moxon's" name was so 
intimately associated with the poet's future works, we 
may be allowed to go back for a moment. In 1827 
a little duodecimo volume of 240 pages, entitled 
" Poems, by Two Brothers," was published by J. and 
J. Jackson, Market Place, Louth ; and the "two 
brothers " were Charles and Alfred Tennyson, the 
latter being only seventeen years of age. In 1829 
Mr. Tennyson gained the Chancellor's gold medal 
at Cambridge for a prize poem on " Timbuctoo," his 
friend Hallam being also one of the competitors. 
The prize poem was printed with his name, and, a 
thing quite unprecedented, was noticed at length in 
the Athenceum, as indicating "really first-rate poetical 
genius, and which would have done honour to any 
man that ever wrote. . . . How many men have lived 
for a century who could equal this?" In the following 
year, 1830, appeared the "Poems, chiefly Lyrical, by 
Alfred Tennyson ;" London : Efnngham Wilson, 
Royal Exchange, 1830' (pp. 154) ; and it was these, 
of course, which were reviewed by Hallam in the 
EnglisJnnans Magazine. In the course of a very long 
notice, the writer says : "The features of original 
genius are clearly and strongly marked. The author 
imitates nobody ; we recognise the spirit of the age, 
but not the individual pen of this or that writer. . . . 


In presenting the young poet to the public as one not 
studious of instant popularity, and unlikely to attain it 
. . . we have spoken in good faith, commending the 
volume to feeling hearts and imaginative tempers." 
Even before this review, deeply interesting when we 
remember what a loving and loved friend he was who 
wrote it, the little volume was noticed in the West- 
minster Reviciv by, it is believed, Mr. John Stuart 
Mill, as demonstrating "the possession of powers, 
to the future direction of which we look with some 
anxiety. He has shown, in the lines from which we 
quote, his own just conception of the grandeur of a 
poet's calling ; and we look to him for its fulfilment." 
Encouragement such as this led Moxon to publish a 
further volume of Mr. Tennyson's poems in 1833, and 
the connection thus commenced lasted throughout his 
lifetime. In a letter addressed to him by Wordsworth, 
as a northern correspondent in the book-market, 
there is intelligence, neither pleasant for a veteran 
poet to indite, nor for a young publisher to receive : 
" There does not seem to be much genuine relish for 
poetical publications in Cumberland, if I may judge 
from the fact of not a copy of my poems having been 
sold there by one of the leading booksellers, though 
Cumberland is my native county." In this same year, 
too, Moxon published, for the first time, a collected 
edition of the " Last Essays of Elia ;" but before this 
time he proved, by his attention to his business, that he 
was worthy of Miss Isola's hand. Lamb's letters to 
Moxon, in the few weeks preceding the marriage, are 
in -his happiest, most delicately-bantering style 
for instance : " For God's sake give Emma no more 
watches one has turned her head. She is arrogant 
and insulting. She said something very unpleasant 


to our old clock in the passage, as if he did not keep 
time, and yet he had made her no appointment. She 
takes it out every moment to look at the minute hand. 
She lugs us out into the field, because there the bird- 
boys cry out 'You, pray, sir, can you tell us the 
time ?' and she answers them punctually. She loses 
all her time looking to see what the time is ! I heard 
her whispering just now 'so many hours, minutes, 
&c., to Tuesday ; I think St. George's goes too slow.' 
. . . She has spoilt some of the movements. Between 
ourselves, she has kissed away the ' half-past twelve,' 
which I suppose to be the canonical hour in Hanover 
Square." On the 3Oth July they were married. 
Lamb, as long as he lived, regarded them with almost 
paternal affection, and, at his death, left Moxon his 
treasured collection of books. 

Meanwhile the illustrated edition of Rogers's 
" Italy" was in preparation, and with a view to its 
publication Moxon moved to Dover Street, Piccadilly. 

Rogers spared no cost in the production of what 
was intended to be the most beautifully illustrated 
volume that had ever been published. ; 10,000 was 
spent on the illustrations and the engraving of them. 
There were fifty-six engravings in all by Turner, 
Stothard, and other eminent artists. Turner was to 
have received fifty pounds apiece for his drawings, 
but at one time the whole speculation threatened to 
turn out a failure, and he then offered the bard the 
use of them for five pounds each instead. To match 
this luxurious volume the illustrated edition of Rogers's 
" Poems" was brought out, at a further cost of ^5000, 
with seventy-two engravings by Turner, Stothard, 
Landseer, Eastlake, &c., and, in spite of the enormous 
outlay on the two works, their increasing popularity 


must have recouped the poet, for upwards of 50,000 
copies are said to have been sold before the year 
1847. Moxon was always proud of the share he had 
taken in the production of these works. All the 
volumes he issued were indeed remarkable for the 
beautiful manner in which they were "got up," and 
in 1835 he published such an exquisite edition of his 
own sonnets that the beauty of this dandy of a book 
enraged and alarmed a writer in the Quarterly: 
" Its typographical splendours led us to fear that this 
style of writing was getting into fashion," but fortu- 
nately for the reviewer's peace of mind he discovered 
" that Mr. Moxon the bookseller is his own poet, and 

that Mr. Moxon the poet is his own bookseller 

The necessity of obtaining an imprimatur of a pub- 
lisher is a very wholesome restraint, from which Mr. 
Moxon unluckily for himself and for us found 
himself relieved." Surely after a notice like this 
indeed we have only quoted the kindlier portion, for 
often as publishers din the unsaleable nature of the 
drug poetry into the ears of young writers, the charm 
of retorting upon a bookseller seldom falls so tempt- 
ingly before an author. Moxon must have regretted 
that he did not cleave to a promise, held out in his 
first essay in 1826: 

" You'll hear no more from me, 

If critics prove unkind ; 
My next in simple prose must be> 
Unless I farour find." 

This will perhaps suffice as a specimen of the 
productions of Moxon's muse, though the first lines 
in the volume, a " Sonnet to a Nightingale," are in- 
viting. They had been the cause of much pleasantry 
among the author's friends, as having been penned 


by one who had never heard the song of the bird to 
which they were addressed, and the internal evidence 
upon this point is indubitably strong ; the sonnet per- 
haps, to state it in proportion, is to Keats's " Ode to 
the Nightingale," as the owl's screeching "too-whit" to 
" Sweet quired Philomela." 

By this time, however, Moxon, in spite of his bad 
poetry, had made a wide reputation as a poetical 
publisher, and from his establishment was issued, not 
only all that was most valuable of contemporary 
poetical literature, but with true catholic taste, the 
works of our older dramatic poets, edited for the most 
part by the Rev. Alexander Dyce. By degrees, too, 
Moxon was enabled to add to his catalogue the 
works of many of the poets who had shed a lustre 
upon the two first decades of this century, especially 
the works of Keats, Shelley, and Leigh Hunt. 

In 1839 he brought out Mrs. Shelley's edition of 
her husband's poems the first "complete edition" 
that had been published. In the following year a 
bookseller in the Strand named Hetherington was 
indicted for selling a work entitled " Haslam's Let- 
ters to the Clergy of all Denominations," and was 
sentenced to four months' imprisonment, as having 
published in this volume sundry " libels " against the 
Old Testament. While the trial was pending, 
Hetherington commissioned a servant of his, named 
Holt, to purchase copies of " Shelley's Poems" from 
the publisher, and from the retail dealers, and then 
obtained a similar indictment against Moxon. The 
celebrated trial the " Queen v. Moxon" was of course 
the result. The prosecution relied chiefly upon cer- 
tain passages in " Queen Mab," more especially in 
the notes, and these were read in order to prove the 


charge of blasphemy. Mr. Serjeant Talfourd was 
engaged for the defence. " I am called," he com- 
menced, " from the bar in which I usually practise, to 
defend from the odious charge of blasphemy one with 
whom I have been acquainted for many years one 
whom I have always believed incapable of wilful 
offence towards God or towards man one who was 
introduced to me in early days, by the dearest of my 
friends who has gone before by Charles Lamb to 
whom the wife of the defendant was an adopted 
daughter." After a magnificent oration in which he 
asked, with a fitting indignation, "if the publisher of 
any penny blasphemy is to have the right of pre- 
scribing to us legally that such and such pages are to 
be torn from the treasured volumes of our choicest 
literature," he left in the hands of the jury "the 
cause of genius the cause of learning the cause of 
history the cause of thought," and concluded by a 
tribute to Moxon's character " beginning his career 
under the auspices of Rogers, the eldest of a great 
age of poets, and blessed with the continued support 
of that excellent person, who never broke by one un- 
worthy line the charm of moral grace which pervades 
his works, he has been associated with Lamb, whose 
kindness ennobled all sects, all parties, all classes, 
and whose genius shed new and pleasant lights on 
daily life ; with Southey, the pure and childlike in 
heart ; with Coleridge, in the light of whose Christian 
philosophy the indicted poems would assume their 
true character, as mournful, yet salutary, specimens of 
powers developed imperfectly in this world ; and with 
Wordsworth, whose works, so long neglected and 
scorned, but so long silently nurturing tastes for the 
lofty and the pure, it has been Mr. Moxon's privilege 


to diffuse largely throughout this and other lands, 
and with them the sympathies which link the human 
heart to nature and to God, and all classes of man- 
kind to each other." Lord Denman, before whom 
the case was tried, instructed the jury, in his summing 
up, to administer the law as it undoubtedly stood, 
though he himself was of opinion that the best and 
most effectual method of acting in regard to such 
doctrines was to refute them by argument and reason- 
ing rather than by persecution. The jury accord- 
ingly returned a verdict of guilty, unaccompanied by 
any observation whatsoever. The illegal passages 
were eliminated for a time ; and thus the matter 
ended. The trial took place in June, 1841, at a 
time when Moxon was in great sorrow for the loss of 
his eldest son, and much sympathy was exhibited 
towards him. 

Shelley's name, however, was designed to be associ- 
ated with further publishing vexations. In 1852, 
Moxon issued a volume entitled " Letters of P. B, 
Shelley," with an introductory essay by Mr. Robert 
Browning. The usual presentation copies were sent 
to the papers, the " Letters" were generally noticed as 
being essentially characteristic, but the discretion 
shown in printing them was much questioned. Natur- 
ally Mr. Browning's essay attracted a large share of 
attention, though consisting of but forty-four pages,for it 
is his only acknowledged prose work (why, by the way, 
has it never been reprinted ?). He describes Shelley 
as a man " true, simple-hearted, and brave ; and be- 
cause what he acted corresponded to what he knew, 
so I call him a man of religious mind, because every 
audacious negative cast up by him against the Divinity 
was interpreted with a mood of reverence and adora- 


tion." An early copy of the volume was sent to Mr. 
Tennyson, and Mr. Palgrave, who was then paying 
him a visit, turned over its pages until he came to a 
passage in a letter which he at once recognised (with 
a most dutiful and filial remembrance), as a portion of 
an article upon "Florence," which Sir Francis Pal- 
grave had contributed to the Quarterly Review. He 
immediately communicated with his father, who, after 
comparing the printed letter with the printed article, 
wrote to Moxon and informed him that this letter 
was cribbed bodily from the Quarterly Review. 
Moxon replied that the original was in Shelley's 
handwriting and that it bore, moreover, the proper 
dated postmark. Even the experts pronounced the 
letters genuine, and the detectives were then set to work 
the book having, of course, been' immediately with- 
drawn from publication. The MSS., which had been 
bought at public auction, were traced to Mr. White, a 
bookseller in Pall Mall. He alleged that in 1848, two 
women began to bring him letters of Byron's for sale, 
at first in driblets and impelled by poverty, they then 
offered him other letters by Shelley, and books with 
Byron's autograph and MS. notes. His suspicions 
were aroused, he followed them home, and insisted 
upon seeing the real owner of the letters. This person 
was introduced to him as Mr. G. Byron, a son of the 
poet, and thus he thought the mystery satisfactorily 
explained. He then sold the letters relating more 
purely to family matters to Shelley's relatives ; Murray 
became the eventual purchaser of Byron's, and Moxon 
of Shelley's letters and Murray, who only had his 
volume in the press, at once stopped it. The letters 
are now believed to have been the forgeries by G. 
Byron, and are indeed indexed under his name in the 


British Museum Catalogue. The system upon which 
he had obtained money for them appears to have 
been very extensive and well organised, and as some 
few were probably genuine, and others based upon a 
substratum of truth, the difficulty of judging those 
which in various ways have got into print, was extreme. 
Altogether, this is one of the most notable literary 
forgeries of modern times. 

To return, however, to Moxon, we find that in 1835, 
conjointly with Longman, he published Wordsworth's 
"Yarrow Revisited," and shortly after this the poet 
transferred all his works from the Messrs. Longman, 
and we believe that Moxon purchased the copyrights 
of the past poems for the sum of one thousand pounds. 

Mr. Browning's earlier volumes, like Mr. Tennyson's 
" Lyrical Poems," had been published by Effingham 
Wilson, but in 1840 Moxon issued " Sordello." This 
was followed by " Bells and Pomegranates," published 
in numbers between 1842 and 1845, and by a " Blot 
in the Scutcheon," (acted at Drury Lane in 1843), 
and which, though unsuccessful on the stage, was in 
the opinion of Charles Dickens "the finest poem of 
the century." In 1848, however, Mr. Browning re- 
moved his works to the care of Messrs. Chapman 
and Hall. 

Among the other authors whose productions were 
issued by Moxon somewhere at this period, and whom 
we cannot do more than mention, were Talfourd, Monk- 
ton Milnes (Lord Houghton), Tom Hood, Barry Corn- 
wall (Proctor), Sheridan Knowles (who was by turn 
an usher, a journalist, a dramatic poet, and a dissent- 
ing minister), Quillinan (whose works Landor wittily, 
though unjustly, described as Quillinanities), Mr. 
Browning (for a brief period only), Haydn, and Dana. 


Mr. Tennyson had been silent for ten years, had been 
maturing his talents, been mourning for the death of 
his friend Hallam, and probably during the whole of 
this time not a thousand copies of his poems had been 
sold. But he was already acknowledged as one of 
our greatest living poets by a small and ardent band 
of admirers, and in 1 842 he was induced to break his 
long silence and publish an edition of his poems in 
two volumes, of which the second was composed en- 
tirely of new pieces, and in the first some were new, 
and many had been re-written. By this time his 
success was publicly and generally acknowledged, and 
fresh editions were called for in 1843, 1845, l %47> an d 
from that date in still more rapid succession. The beauty 
and purity of his poems attracted royal favour, and in 
1846 he received a pension from the crown, and this 
unfortunately gave offence to some rivals in the divine 
art, and Lord Lytton in the " New Timon " attacked 
" Schoolmiss Alfred." To this Mr. Tennyson re- 
plied by a poem published in Punch (February, 
1846), which may be summed up in the two words, 
" Thou bandbox." In 1843, Wordsworth, in a letter 
to Reed, says, " I saw Tennyson when I was in 
London several times. He is decidedly the first of 
our living poets (sic), and I hope will live to give the 
world still better things. You will be pleased to hear 
that he expressed, in the strongest terms, his gratitude 
to my writings. To this I was far from indifferent, 
though persuaded that he is not much in sympathy 
with what I should myself most value in my attempts, 
viz., the spirituality with which I have endeavoured 
to invest the material universe, and the moral rela- 
tions under which I have wished to exhibit its most 
ordinary appearances." Again, in 1848, Mr. Emer- 


son, in describing a visit to Wordsworth, says, " Tenny- 
son, he thinks, a right poetic genius, though with some 
affectation. He had thought an elder brother of 
Tennyson at first the better poet, but must now 
reckon Alfred the true one." 

When Wordsworth died in 1850, the laureateship was 
offered to Mr. Rogers, and the letter conveying the 
offer was written by Prince Albert. The poet, how- 
ever, was now eighty-seven years of age, and he felt 
that his years and his wealth should prevent him 
from interfering with the claims of younger and poorer 
men, and he generously felt impelled to decline the 
honour, which was then conferred upon Mr. Tennyson, 
who received, as he says so beautifully, in reference to 
Wordsworth, the 

" Laurel, greener from the brows 
Of him who uttered nothing base." 

Before this, however, the "Princess" and "InMemoriam" 
had appeared. For a time Mr. Tennyson was again 
silent, breaking his silence only by four poems con- 
tributed to the Examiner, and by the " Ode on the 
Death of the Duke of Wellington" (Moxon, 1852). 
One of the four poems in the Examiner, however, was 
" The Charge of the Light Brigade," and of this 
Moxon published a quarto sheet of four pages. 
" Having heard that the brave soldiers before 
Sebastopol, whom I am proud to call my country- 
men, have a liking for my ballad on the ' Charge of 
the Light Brigade ' at Balaclava, I have ordered a 
thousand copies of it to be printed for them. ALFRED 

* For a very interesting bibliographical account of Mr. Tennyson's 
works, showing the various changes which the poems have undergone, 
see " Tennysoniana," by R. H. Shepherd (1856). 


In 1855 appeared another poem resulting from the 
war " Maud," one of the most beautiful and least 
understood of all Mr. Tennyson's compositions. 

On the 3rd of June, 1858, Edward Moxon died, 
having, as a publisher, earned the esteem of all his 
clients and the gratitude of all the public. What his 
services to literature have been the names comprised 
in his catalogues bear ample witness. Truly Lamb's 
dedicatory prophecy had been amply fulfilled ! On 
his death the immediate management of the firm 
devolved upon Mr. J. Bertrand Payne, and under his 
rule the business was distinguished rather for the 
energy with which the already published works were 
pushed forward than for any encouragement held out 
to acknowledged genius. Mr. Payne himself under- 
took the superintendence of the " Moxon's Miniature 
Series," and, as soon as the " Idylls of the King" had 
been published, of the luxurious edition of them illus- 
trated by that extraordinary genius, M. Gustave Dore. 
There was one exception to his lack of enterprise. 
In 1 86 1 Mr. Pickering published the "Queen Mother" 
and " Rosamond/' two plays by Mr. Swinburne, then 
a young man of eighteen. Except in the case of a 
condemnatory notice in the Athenaeum these poems 
attracted little or no attention ; but in 1865 " Moxon 
and Son " published the " Atalanta in Calydon," 
which at once marked out the author as the most 
musical, and one of the greatest, of our living singers. 
It was at all events pretty generally acknowledged 
that for true poetic inspiration, momentary if it were, 
no poet of our generation could rival Mr. Swinburne. 
This opinion was still further strengthened by the 
publication of " Chastelard," in 1866. When, how- 
ever the " Poems and Ballads " appeared, they were 



met by such a whirlwind of abuse from critics, whose 
professional morality was supposed to have been 
shame-stricken, that the publishers explained that 
they were unaware of the nature of the poems they 
had laid before the public, and suppressed the edition 
before it got into circulation. As a consequence the 
few copies that had been sold were eagerly sought at 
a price of five guineas, and the volume was speedily 
republished in America. In this strait, Mr. J. Camden 
Hotten came forward, and to him Mr. Swinburne con- 
fided all his hitherto published poems, including the 
much-abused and also much-praised "Poems and 
Ballads." His latest works, however, "The Ode to 
the French Republic," and the "Songs before Sunrise/' 
have been issued by Mr. Ellis, who as the publisher 
of Mr. Morris, Mr. Swinburne, and Mr. Rossetti, bids 
fair to occupy the position so long and so honourably 
occupied by Moxon as a distinctively poetical pub- 

Before this Mr. Tennyson had removed his copy- 
rights to the care of Mr. Strahan, and though in 1869 
Mr. Arthur Moxon was admitted a member of the 
firm, the old glory had departed from them ; and in 
the summer of the year 1871 the whole business was 
transferred to Messrs. Ward, Lock, and Tyler, and 
Mr. Beeton was appointed manager ; the house in 
Dover Street was no longer retained, though Mr. Arthur 
Moxon's services have been secured to superintend 
the business department. The first volume issued 
under the new regime the " Sonnets " of Edward 
Moxon is a timely tribute to the founder of the 
famous house. We could not, perhaps, give him 
higher praise than in saying that he was as good as a 
publisher as he was indifferent as a poet. 



/ T > HE " Number Publishers " may be looked upon 
as the modern pioneers of literature ; their 
books are circulated by a peculiar method, among a 
peculiar public, almost entirely through the agency of 
their own canvassers, without the intervention of any 
other bookseller, and the works thus sold are scarcely 
known to the ordinary members of the publishing 
world. As the business is conducted by house to 
house visitation, a substratum of the public is reached 
which is entirely out of the stretch of the regular 
bookselling arm, though, when once a taste for reading 
has been developed, the regular bookseller cannot fail 
to benefit, as he will from every onward step in educa- 
tion and progress. 

The Canvassing Trade is conducted by only a few 
houses in London, Edinburgh, and Glasgow. In our 
introductory chapter we caught a glimpse of some of 
the earlier members, but in modern times two names 
Kelly, and, in a much broader sense, Virtue stand 
forward prominently, and to these two we shall 
address ourselves. 



Thomas Kelly* was born at Chevening, in Kent, on 
the 7th of January, 1777. His father was a shepherd, 
who, having received a jointure of 200 with his wife, 
risked the capital first in a little country inn, and 
afterwards in leasing a small farm of abotit thirty 
acres of cold, wet land, where he led a starving, 
struggling life during the remainder of his days. 
When only twelve years old, barely able to read and 
write, young Kelly was taken from school, and put to 
the hard work of the farm, leading the team or keep- 
ing the flock, but he was not strong enough to handle 
the plough. The fatigue of this life, and its misery, 
were so vividly impressed upon his memory, that he 
could never be persuaded to revisit the neighbourhood 
in after-life ; and though at the time he endeavoured 
to conceal his feelings from his family, the bitterness 
of his reflections involuntarily betrayed his wishes. 
He fretted in the daytime until he could not lie 
quietly in his bed at night, and early one morning he 
was discovered in a somnambulant state in the chimney 
of an empty bedroom, " on," as he said, " his road to 
London." After this his parents readily consented 
that he should try to make his way elsewhere, and a 
situation was obtained for him in the counting-house 
of a Lambeth brewer. After about three years' service 
here, the business failed, and he was recommended to 
Alexander Hogg, bookseller of Paternoster Row. The 
terms of his engagement were those of an ordinary 
domestic servant ; he was to board and lodge on the 
premises, and to receive ten pounds yearly, but his 
lodging, or, at all events, his bed, was under the shop 

* For a full account of this interesting and successful bookseller set 
"Life of Alderman Kelly," by the Rev. R. C. Fell (1856). 


Alexander Hogg, of 16, Paternoster Row, had been 
a journeyman to Cooke, and had very successfully 
followed the publication of " Number " books. In the 
trade he was looked upon as an unequalled " puffer," 
and when the sale of a book began to slacken, he was 
wont to employ some ingenious scribe to draw up a 
taking title, and the work, though otherwise unaltered, 
was brought out in a " new edition," as, according to 
a formula, the " Production of a Society of Gentlemen : 
the whole revised, corrected, and improved by Walter 
Thornton, Esq., A.M., and other gentlemen." 

Kelly's duties were to make up parcels of books for 
the retail booksellers, and his zeal displayed itself 
even in somnambulism, and one night when in a 
comatose state, he actually arranged in order the 
eighty numbers of " Foxe's Martyrs," taken from as 
many different compartments. He spent all his 
leisure in study, and soon was able to read French 
with fluency, gaining the proper accent by attending 
the French Protestant church in Threadneedle Street. 
The good old housekeeper, at this time his only friend, 
was a partaker of his studies ; at all events, he gave 
her the benefit of all the more amusing and interest- 
ing matter he came across. His activity, though it 
rendered the head-shopman jealous, attracted Hogg's 
favourable attention, and the clever discovery of a 
batch of stolen works, still further strengthened the 
interest he felt in his serving boy. The thieves, 
owing to the lad's ingenuity, were apprehended and 
convicted, and Kelly had to come forward as a witness. 
" This was my first appearance at the Old Bailey, and 
as I was fearful I might give incorrect evidence, I 
trembled over the third commandment. How could 
I think, while shaking in the witness-box, that I 


should ever be raised to act as Her Majesty's First 
Commissioner at the Central Criminal Court of Eng- 
land !" 

Half of his scanty pittance of ten pounds was sent 
home to aid his parents, and as his wages increased, 
so did this dutiful allowance. In this situation Kelly 
remained for twenty years and two months, and at no 
time did he receive more than eighty pounds per 
annum, and it is believed that when- his stipend 
reached that petty maximum, he defrayed the whole 
of his father's farm rent. That he was not entirely 
satisfied with his prospects, is evident from the fact 
that about ten years after he joined Hogg he accepted 
a clerkship in Sir Francis Baring's office, but so neces- 
sary had he become to the establishment he was 
about to leave, that his late master prevailed upon him 
to accept board and residence in exchange for what 
assistance he might please to render over hours. 
After six weeks of this double work, poor Kelly's 
health began to suffer, and it was plain that he must 
confine his labours to one single branch of trade. 
" Thomas," said his master, sagaciously enough, 
though probably with a view to his own interests, 
" you never can be a merchant, but you may be a 
bookseller." This advice chimed in with his inclina- 
tion, if not with his immediate prospects, and Kelly 
devoted himself to bookselling. 

At length Hogg, falling into bad health, and desir- 
ing to be relieved from business, proposed to Kelly 
that he should unite in partnership with his son ; but 
the conscientious assistant felt constrained to decline 
the tempting offer, by reason of the young man's 
character, and resolved rather to attempt business on 
his own account. In 1809, therefore, he started in a 


little room in Paternoster Row, sub-rented from the 
landlord a friendly barber. On his small front room 
he wrote his name, "Thomas Kelly," and by way of 
advertising his change of position, he generally stood 
downstairs in the common doorway. To all the " Row " 
Hogg's able assistant had been known simply as 
" Thomas," and one old acquaintance actually asked 
him, " Well, Thomas, who is this Kelly that you have 
taken up with ?" 

For the first two years his operations were confined 
solely to the purchase and sale of miscellaneous books 
on a small scale, and the limited experiment proved 
successful. Of " Buchan's Domestic Medicine " he 
bought one thousand copies in sheets at a low price, 
and, having prefixed a short memoir of the author, 
and divided them into numbers or parts, he went out 
himself in quest of subscribers ; and a thousand copies 
of the " New Week's Preparation" were treated in a 
like manner and with similar success. Henceforth he 
resolved to print at his own risk, always adopting the 
sectional method, and working his books, from first to 
last, entirely through the hands of his own agents, 
and the profit he found in this scheme depended 
almost entirely upon the happy knowledge he possessed 
of human character, and the cautious foresight with 
which he was able to select his canvassers. One of 
the first works he published in this manner was a large 
Family Bible, edited by J. Mallam, Rector of Hilton, 
afterwards known as "Kelly's Family Bible." To 
each of his canvassers he gave stock on credit, worth 
from twenty to one hundred pounds, ready money 
was insisted on, and this plan insured a speedy 
return of capital. The Bible extended to one hundred 
and seventy-three numbers, and the entire work cost 


the subscribers $ 15^., paid, of course, in weekly or 
monthly driblets-; and, as 80,000 copies were soon 
sold, the gross receipts must have reached 460,000. 
Nearly half this sum, however, went in the agents' 
allowances for canvassing and delivery. The paper 
duty alone on this one work was estimated at upwards 
of 20,000. To this Bible succeeded "The Life of 
Christ," " Foxe's Martyrs," and the " History of 
England," all in folio, with copper-plate embellish- 
ments ; and " Hervey's Meditations," " Bunyan's 
Pilgrim's Progress," and various other popular works, 
in octavo. 

Six months after he had left his former situation, 
Hogg died, and the son soon fell into difficulties, 
and was obliged to relinquish the business, which 
Kelly immediately purchased, speedily adding to it the 
trade of Cooke, the owner of No. 17, and thus uniting 
the two concerns into one. 

About the year 1814 the system of printing books 
from stereotype-plates began to be very generally 
adopted for large editions, and Kelly at once saw its 
advantages, but, of course, as in all improvements, the 
trade set themselves against the innovation, and he 
had to purchase land at Merton, and erect a foundry 
of his own, and then, and not till then, the printers 
relinquished their opposition, and the building was 
abandoned. It was about this time, in March, 1815, 
that he very nearly lost a moiety of his fortune through 
fire. Luckily, upon the outbreak of a fire in the neigh- 
bourhood a few days before, he had been alarmed, and 
had gone straightway to the office of the Phoenix 
Company, and paid a deposit on the insurance. 
Before the policy was made out, the whole of his 
stock was destroyed, but the Phcenix Company paid 


up without an hour's delay, and, in return, he never 
cancelled a single policy with them until this sum had 
been reimbursed. How largely Kelly traded may be 
gathered from the fact that from one of his agents 
alone he often received from 4000 to 5000 per 

To revert for a moment to his private life ; his father 
had died in 1810, when the bookseller was still a 
struggling man, but, in spite of his difficulties, he paid 
at once the amount of his father's debts; and brought 
his mother up to Wimbledon, where she lived to see 
her son a wealthy and prosperous man. To his old 
master's widow he generously allowed an annuity, 
and even aided young Hogg, who had pursued him 
with inveterate hatred, with the loan of 600. He 
never married. When little known he saved a 
member of the Court of Aldermen from bankruptcy 
by an advance of 4000, and he was always ready to 
lend out his money to those in trouble. But once, 
when asked to give his acceptance to ten or twelve 
thousand pounds worth of bills in these terms, 
" Will you, for once in your life, do a good action, and 
oblige me?" he thought himself perfectly justified in 
refusing, and soon after the acceptor of these bills 
failed. In 1823 he was elected into the Common 
Council of his ward ; in 1825 he served as Sheriff with 
Mr. Alderman Crowder, on whose death he succeeded 
to the Alderman's gown of Farringdon Without. He 
always lamented his want of a systematic education, 
and late in life he endeavoured, in some way, to supply 
the place of it by experience gathered from foreign 

Notwithstanding his immense issues of costly books, 
lie exercised the most watchful prudence. " Books," 


he says, " generally, printed in the ordinary way, only 
sell 5 r 1000 copies, and periodical publications 
would be ruinous. Nothing but a vast sale will prove 
remunerative," and this "vast sale" he certainly effected 
in almost every instance. He published twelve separate 
issues of the Bible, and disposed of, probably, not less 
than 250,000 copies. The following is a list of his 
more important works : " History of the French 
Revolution," 20,000 copies at 4 ; " Hume's England," 
5,000, at 4 i8.r.; "The Gazetteer," 4,000, at 4 ioj.; 
" The Oxford Encyclopaedia," 4,000 at 6 (and the 
,24,000 only barely covered the original outlay) ; 
"The Geography," 30,000 at 4 4^.; and the "Archi- 
tectural Works," 50,000, at an average of i i$s. To 
these may be added " The Life of Christ," of which, in 
folio and quarto, not fewer than 100,000 copies were 
distributed, at prices varying from 1 is. to 2. No 
wonder, with figures like these (for which we are 
indebted to Mr. Fell's volume), that the trade objected 
to this method of transacting business, but the differ- 
ence was confined merely to business relations, for 
every one of the numerous booksellers in the Ward 
signed the request asking him to stand as Alderman. 

In 1836 he received the highest honour to which a 
citizen of London can aspire, for he was elected Lord 
Mayor. His year of office was a memorable one, and 
the first entertainment of Queen Victoria occurred on 
the very day of his retirement from office, and thus 
he narrowly escaped the honour of a baronetcy, for 
he had the good sense to decline the requisition to 
stand a second time. 

His appearance in his robes of office is thus described 
by M. Titus Perondi, a French traveller: "The 
new Lord Mayor appeared in a gilded chariot, almost 


as grand as the King's, drawn by six bay horses, 
richly caparisoned . . . He does not seem to be 
more than sixty-two years of age, and his figure, slight 
as it is, is still imposing for the flowing wig and 
ermine mantle, which encircled all his person, added 
not a little to the dignity of his presence. ... A 
thriving bookseller, yet a perfectly honest man, and 
very charitable." The last sentence is an admirable 
summary of his character. 

The attainment of this honour terminated his com- 
mercial and public life, for after this date he relin- 
quished, in a great degree, his business cares ; but to 
an extreme old age he retained his faculties, and he 
retained also his habits of quiet and discriminating 
charity, doing good by stealth, and blushing to find it 
known. On the 2Oth October, 1854, he paid his last 
visit to his parent's grave, and was there heard to mur- 
mur, " How very happy I am." His failing health com- 
pelled him to visit Margate, and here, on the 7th of 
September, 1855, he died in a ripe old age. A letter, 
written just before his death, evidently betrays a 
lingering fondness for early childish days : "We are 
surrounded by fields of fully-ripening corn some cut, 
some cutting," babbling, like FalstafT, of green fields, 
till the sixty years of town life were forgotten. 

Thomas Kelly was one of those men of whom the 
London citizens are so proud men who come to 
the mighty centre of commerce utterly friendless, and 
worse still, penniless, and whom industry, labour, and 
good fortune exalt to the very pinnacle of a good 
citizen's fondest dreams. But he was more than a 
Lord Mayor he was a true friend ; he was a loving, 
dutiful, and tender son qualities not always insured 
even by commercial success. 


Mr. George Virtue was another of those men of 
whom, in this history, we have had not a few examples, 
who, beginning life without any fictitious advantages, 
have made success their goal, and, in attaining it, have 
not only amassed princely fortunes for themselves and 
their families, but have opened up new branches of in- 
dustry, and have afforded employment to hundreds 
whose bread depends upon their daily labours. 

His father was a native of Fogo, in" Berwickshire, 
who first at Coldstream, and afterwards at Wooler, in 
Northumberland, let out for hire carts and carters to 
the neighbouring farmers. In the year 1793, his 
second son, George, was born at Coldstream, and 
there and at Wooler, he passed the early years of his 
boyhood. In 1810, his father met with an accident, 
which caused him to relinquish the business he had 
hitherto been engaged in. His eldest son, James, who 
had a good engagement in London, gave up his em- 
ployment and hastened home, and removing with the 
family to Coldstream, commenced business there as a 
mason, taking his brother George as an apprentice. 

Mrs. Somerton, their married sister, had a large 
house, near the Houses of Parliament, in London, which 
she let out, much on the plan of the club-chambers 
of the present day. George had come up to London, 
partly on business, partly on a visit to his sister, and 
not wishing to return to the North, he made an 
arrangement to remain with Mrs. Somerton. 

The house was chiefly frequented by members of 
Parliament and men in the higher grades of life ; and 
one of the former, who had taken a fancy to George 
Virtue, asked him what he would like to be. George 
at once replied, "A bookseller," and his patron assisted 
him in stocking a shop in the neighbourhood, This was 


about the year 1820. At first his trade consisted en- 
tirely in the retail business, but by degrees he was able 
to purchase entire remainders of that distinct class of 
religious publications which were then sold chiefly in 
numbers. These he re-issued ; and as he did his own 
canvassing, no zeal was wanting in the service, and his 
success was by no means indifferent. Once established, 
he was able to canvass for the books of other pub- 
lishers ; and on the I5th July, 1821, the first number 
of a work was published, which took the town by 
storm. Whether Mr. Virtue's canvassing powers were 
acknowledged by the trade at this early period, or 
whether his peculiar class of customers was considered 
as most amenable to the work in question, we know 
not, but he was given an interest of one kind or 
another, either as part proprietor or as a purchaser on 
unusually liberal terms in the famous " Life in London ; 
or, the Adventures of Tom and Jerry," issued by 
Sherwood, Neeley, and Jones, of Paternoster Row. The 
book was written by Pierce Egan, afterwards the 
founder of Bell's Life. 

Works describing country sports and pastimes had 
proved so acceptable that it was imagined that a 
volume issued in numbers, setting forth the humours 
of town life would be equally taking. The illus- 
trations by J. R. and George Cruikshank proved irre- 
sistible. The work was so successful that innumerable 
imitations appeared, one of which (" Shade of Lack- 
ington !") was published by Jones and Co., who occu- 
pied his former place of business, the " Temple of the 
Muses " in Finsbury Square. There was absolutely a 
furore for the work. Dibdin, Barryman, Farell, Dou- 
glas Jerrold, Moncrieff, and others adapted it for the 
stage. It was on the boards of ten theatres at one 


time ; and at the Adelphi, where Moncrieff s adapta- 
tion was produced, it enjoyed the then unparalleled 
run of three hundred nights. At last, Pierce Egan, 
declaring that no less than sixty-five separate publica- 
tions had been derived from his work, brought forward 
his own characteristic version, which, however, proved 
a failure. 

All the world bought " Tom and Jerry," and having 
roared over the plates, tossed them not unnaturally 
aside ; so that a work, which, in popularity, had been 
the " Pickwick " of its day, became so wonderfully 
scarce that when Mr. Thackeray, with whom it had 
been an early favourite, wanted a copy for a review he 
was writing upon Mr. George Cruikshank's works, he 
applied at all the libraries, including the British 
Museum, in vain. The work was advertised for in 
the Times with like result, and he had to depend upon 
his memory for his description. However, twenty 
years after, when he wished to make it the subject of 
one of the most charming of the "Roundabout Papers," 
he found that it had been added to the Museum 

It was, however, with the contemporary popularity 
that Mr. Virtue was concerned, and by it his business 
was largely increased. 

In 1831, his affairs warranted an important move to 
the vicinity of Paternoster Row, and about this time 
he married a Miss Sprent, a lady from Manchester. 
From his new abode the works which he at first issued 
were of much the same stamp as those which Messrs. 
Kelly, Hogg, and Cooke had previously spread 
abroad ; but he soon struck out into a higher class of 
literature. His first very successful book was "A 
Guide to Family Devotion/' by Dr. Alexander 


Fletcher. The work was undertaken by Mr. Virtue, 
as Dr. Fletcher says, " at great expense and some 
hazard, during the years 1833 1834." The volume 
contained 730 prayers, 730 hymns, and 730 selected 
passages of Scripture, suitable for Morning and Even- 
ing Service, throughout the year, and was illustrated 
by engravings by the best artists. The popularity it 
achieved was enormous : thirty editions of a thousand 
each were soon issued, and, as the Times said, " 30,000 
copies of a book of Common Prayer, recommended 
by twenty-five distinguished ministers, cannot be 
dispersed throughout England without effecting some 
change in the minds of probably 200,000 persons." 

In America, the " Guide to Family Devotion " was 
as successful as at home, and upwards of one hundred 
ministers there sent in testimonials to its worth. By 
1850, the sale is said to have exceeded 50,000 copies. 

Mr. Virtue, about this time, entered into an engage- 
ment with W. Henry Bartlett, who, pencil in hand, 
travelled over the four quarters of the globe, making 
sketches, which that enterprising publisher issued in 
volumes, illustrated with beautiful steel engravings 
and descriptive letterpress. The first of these was 
" Switzerland," published in 1835, in two quarto 
volumes. This was followed by Scotland, Palestine, 
the Nile, and America. Of the Switzerland, 20,000 
copies were sold ; and in the production of the two 
volumes on Scotland, upwards of one thousand persons 
were employed at a cost of .40,000. The number of 
engraved plates in these volumes amounted to a 

When Mr. Virtue commenced these illustrated 
volumes, the Fine Art tastes of the public were in a 
very uneducated condition ; but, selecting the best 


artists and employing the best engravers, he set a good 
example, which was speedily followed by others. In 
1839, Messrs. Hodgson and Graves had started a 
cheap periodical devoted to Art, under the title of 
the Art Union, intended chiefly as an organ of the 
print trade ; but it was not till the year 1849 that tm ' s 
publication passed into the hands of Mr. Virtue, who 
changed the title to the Art Journal, and devoted it 
to the development of Fine Art and Industrial Art, 
with illustrations on steel and wood by the first artists 
of the day. The Art Journal, it is admitted, has done 
more than any private venture or corporate body to 
disseminate true ideas of Art in England. The Art 
Journal, though among the very earliest of those 
periodicals in which Art was brought to the aid of 
Literature, still towers proudly above all. Since its 
foundation, the Art Journal has presented the public 
with between eight and nine hundred steel engravings 
and above 30,000 engravings on wood. 

No less than one hundred illustrated volumes were 
issued from Mr. Virtue's establishment, and for their 
production it was found necessary to erect a large 
establishment in the City Road. Almost every en- 
graver of any reputation in this country has been em- 
ployed on one or other of Mr. Virtue's illustrated works. 
Indeed, had it not been for the field of labour opened 
by the Art Union, in their yearly distribution of en- 
gravings, and for the encouragement held out by Mr. 
Virtue in the production of his illustrated works and 
the Art Journal, it is said that the art of line engrav- 
ing would have quite died out in England ; and for 
his services to the public, and, through them, to the 
profession, he is certainly entitled to be regarded as 
the first Art publisher of his time. 


To go to a very different branch of his business, Mr. 
Virtue was not idle in the production of any book 
likely to win the favour of the public. In 1847, Dr. 
Cumming, then widely known as a preacher only, de- 
livered a series of lectures at Exeter Hall upon the 
Apocalypse, which riveted public attention. He was 
urged by his friends to publish the lectures upon their 
completion, and said that he would be willing to do so, 
if he was sure that the proceeds would suffice to pay 
for putting up stained glass windows in his church. 
Mr. Virtue heard this, ascertained the value of the 
windows, and offered their outside cost down in hard 
cash in exchange for the copyright. Dr. Cumming 
eagerly accepted the offer, and by the " Apocalyptic 
Sketches " the publisher realized the handsome sum of 
four thousand pounds. He afterwards made the 
author a present of a hundred pounds, and engaged 
him to write a continuation, at an honorarium of five 
pounds per sheet of thirty-two pages, which eventually 
proved to be equally successful. 

Many years before his death, Mr. George Virtue 
parted with the business to his son, Mr. James Sprent 
Virtue, the present head of the firm. 

On the 8th December, 1868, George Virtue, senior, 
died in his seventy-sixth year, having earned the re- 
spect of all the hundreds to whom he afforded employ- 
ment, and of the outside world ; for all recognised 
that integrity and strict justice to his employes was a 
main cause of his success, while his prosperity had 
been aided by thorough business habits and intense 
application to his duties. 

He had been one of the representatives of the ward 
of Farringdon Without in the Common Council of the 
City of London for many years, and was held in the 



highest esteem by his fellow- citizens. It was in his 
civic capacity that he was invited by the Viceroy of 
Egypt, with other members of the Corporation, to 
pay a visit to that country, an honour which his 
constant attention to his public duties had fully 
merited in selecting him as one of the representatives 
of the City of London on that occasion. 



TEGG* was born at Wimbledon, in 
Surrey, on the 4th of March, 1776. His father 
was a grocer, who not only was successful in business, 
but " wore a large wig," was a Latin scholar, and some- 
thing of a mathematician ; he died, however, when his 
son was only five years old, and was speedily followed 
by his \\ife, and the poor little lad "found it to be a 
dreadful thing when sorrow first takes hold of an 
orphan's heart." For the sake of economy, he was 
sent to Galashiels, in Selkirkshire, where he was 
boarded, lodged, clothed, and educated for ten guineas 
per annum. This severance from all home ties was at 
first more than the little orphan could bear, and many 
a time, he tells us, did he steal off to the quiet banks 
of the Tweed, and cry himself to sleep in his loneli- 
ness. A scrap of paper, which had been given him 
before leaving home, bearing the magic word " Lon- 

""' Tegg left a manuscript autobiography, which was published twenty 
years after his death, in the City Press ; to this interesting memorial we 
are indebted for the facts in our present narrative, 



don," was carefully treasured in all his wanderings, 
and in the associations it called up, in the hopes it 
excited in all his wondering, childish dreams, proved a 
soothing solace to his troubles. His schoolmaster, too, 
was a kind-hearted man, who made a point of study- 
ing each boy's individual character, and of educating 
each for his individual calling. Ruling by " kindness 
rather than by flagellation," he frequently took his 
pupils for country rambles, and taught them lessons 
out of the great book of Nature. Nor was he wholly 
forgotten by his relatives, for we read that he was sent 
a parcel of tea then a wonderful luxury. After 
much consultation as to the best method of cooking 
the delicacy, one half of it was boiled in the " big pot," 
the liquor strained off and the leaves served up as 
greens; "but," he adds, "it was not eaten." After 
staying at Galashiels for four years, he was given the 
choice of being apprenticed either to a saddler or a 
bookseller ; and his fondness for books, and the desire 
already formed of being at some time a bookseller in 
the London he pictured to himself every night in his 
dreams, led him at once to select the latter alterna- 
tive. His dominie at parting, gave him a copy of 
" Dr. Franklin's Life and Essays," a book he treasured 
in all times of prosperity and adversity, and kept to 
the day of his death. 

On a cold, raw morning in September, he started 
on foot for Dalkeith, with only sixpence in his pocket ; 
some friendly farmers on the road gave him a lift in 
their cart, and in his gratitude he confided to them 
his boyish hopes of being by-and-by a great book- 
merchant in London. At Dalkeith he was bound 
apprentice to Alexander Meggett, a bookseller, and 
" from this humble origin/' says Tegg, proudly, " I, 


who am now one of the chief booksellers in London, 
have risen." His master, kindness itself before the 
indentures were signed, turned out to be "a tyrant as 
well as an infidel." " Every market-day he got drunk 
and came home and beat the whole of us. Once I 
said, ' I have done nothing to deserve a beating.' 
1 Young English rascal,' said he, * you may want it 
when I am too busy, so I will give it to you now.' " 
Tegg's fellow-apprentice had, like him, an ambition, 
but it was to become the first whistler in the kingdom. 
Tegg's apprenticeship had by this time become 
intolerable, and, as he had been latterly engaged in 
reading " Robinson Crusoe" and " Roderick Random," 
he resolved to run away and lead an adventurous 
life himself. Though it was in the depth of winter, 
he travelled along on foot, sleeping sometimes under 
hedges laden with hoar-frost. But soon his little hoard- 
ing of ten shillings was exhausted ; at Berwick, 
therefore, he tried to make a livelihood by selling 
chap-books, but was recognised for a runaway ap- 
prentice and had again to fly. At this period he tells 
us he found out the utility of pawnbrokers' shops, 
and discovered, also, the value of small sums. " He 
who has felt the want of a penny is never likely to 
dissipate a pound." Another lesson, too, he gathered 
from his wanderings, which was always when in 
trouble to apply to a woman. " Never," he says, " did 
I plead to a woman in vain." At Newcastle he made 
the acquaintance of Bewick, the engraver ; there he 
might have remained, but his heart was set upon 
reaching London. At Sheffield he was seized by the 
parish officer for travelling on Sunday, but when he 
told his story the severity of Bumbledom itself re- 
lented, and the beadle found him a home, and even 


paid the requisite eighteenpence a week which de- 
frayed the cost of lodging, bread-making, and a weekly 
clean shirt. Here he was engaged by Mr. Gale, the 
proprietor of the Sheffield Register, at seven shillings 
a week, a wretched pittance, but sufficient for his 
small wants, even enabling him to purchase new 
clothes. At the Register office he met some men of 
note, among others, Tom Paine and Dibdin. Paine 
was " a tall, thin, ill-looking man. He had a fiend-like 
countenance, and frequently indulged in oaths and 
blasphemy." After a nine months' sojourn, Tegg left 
Sheffield, and having visited Ireland and North Wales, 
entered the service of a Mr. Marshall, at Lynn, where 
he remained for three or four years. 

Early in 1796, however, he mounted the London 
and Cambridge coach, and, with a few shillings in his 
pockets, with a light heart in his breast, he bade good- 
bye to friends, telling them that he would never come 
back till he could drive down in his carriage. 

On the coach he met some other young men, who, 
like himself, were going up to London in search of 
employment, but who intended to spend the first 
few days in sight-seeing, and asked him to join their 
party. But Tegg resisted the temptation, and when 
London, the London of his dreams but how tolack, 
smoke-filled, and inhospitable ! was really reached, 
he alighted at the Green Dragon in Bishopsgate 
Street, and, struggling through the busy stream of 
men who filled the city streets, he went straightway 
in search of employment, to the first book-shop that 
met his eyes. This happened to be Mr. Lane's 
" Minerva Library," in Leadenhall Street. "What 
can you do ?" asked Lane. " My best," rejoined 
Tegg. " Do you wear an apron ?" Tegg produced 


one and tied it on. " Go to work," said Lane, and 
thus, " in less than half-an-hour from my arrival, I 
was at work in one of the best houses in London." 
Early next morning, map in hand, he took an explor- 
ing walk, and was astonished and delighted with all 
he saw, for to the young bookseller, with his mind 
wrapt up entirely in his projects of success, the per- 
petual rush of unknown faces that he had never 
seen before, would never see again the jostling 
eagerness of crowds, going incessantly this way and 
that, the noisy din of carts and carriages, the vastness. 
of the buildings, and the vagueness of the never* 
ending streets, did not bring that feeling of utter 
loneliness which so many of us remember in our first 
solitary entry into London. Nor was the country lad 
to be beguiled by any of the myriad temptations that 
were ready on all sides to divide his attention from 
his business. " I resolved," he writes, " to visit a place 
of worship every Sunday, and to read no loose or 
infidel books ; that I would frequent no public-houses, 
that I would devote my leisure to profitable studies, 
that I would form no friendships till I knew the parties 
well, and that I would not go to any theatre till my 
reason fortified me against my passions." This perseve- 
rance did not immediately meet with its deserved reward, 
for having been sent, with the other shopmen, to make 
an affidavit as to the numbers of an election bill that 
had been struck ofT, before the Lord Mayor, he said 
boldly, that he did not even know that they had been 
printed ; the Lord Mayor was pleased with the 
answer, and censured Lane severely for tempting the 
boy to commit a perjury ; and Lane, in his rage, dis- 
missed him forthwith. Tegg walked out of the shop, 
clown-hearted for the moment, perhaps, but self-pos- 


sessed and reliant, and entering the shop of John and 
Arthur Arch, at the corner of Gracechurch Street, the 
kindly Quakers took him at once into their employ, 
and here he stayed until entering into business on his 
own account. His new masters were strict but affec- 
tionate. He soon asks for a holiday, " We have no 
objection, but where art thou going, Thomas ? ; ' " To 
Greenwich fair, sir." "Then we think thou hadst 
better not go. Thou wilt lose half a . day's wages. 
Thou wilt spend at least the amount of two days' 
wages more, and thou wilt get into bad company." 
At two, however, he was told he might go ; but as 
soon as he reached London Bridge his heart smote 
him, and he returned. " Why, Thomas, is this thee ? 
Thou art a prudent lad." And when Saturday came, 
his masters added a guinea to his weekly wages as a 
present. From this, Tegg says, he himself learnt to 
be a kind though strict master, and during his fifty 
years of business life, he never used a harsh word to a 
servant, and dismissed but three. 

Having received 200 from the wreck of the family 
prospects, Tegg took a shop, in partnership with a 
Mr. Dewick, in Aldersgate Street, and became a 
" bookmaker " as well as a bookseller ; and his first 
book, the " Complete Confectioner," though it con- 
tained only one hundred lines of original matter, 
reached a second edition. After a short time he 
indulged in a tour to Scotland, where he found that 
his old schoolmaster had died from the effects of an 
amputation ; and in this same journey he honestly 
bought up the unlapsed time of his apprenticeship. 
On returning to London he re-entered the service of 
the Messrs. Arch, and took unto himself a wife. The 
story of his courtship is pleasantly and naively told. 

TffOMAS TEGG. 385 

Coming down the stairs of his new lodgings, " I was 
met by a good-looking, fresh-coloured, sweet-coun- 
tenanced country girl ; and without thinking of the 
impropriety I ventured to wink as she passed. On 
looking up the stairs, I saw my fair one peeping 
through the balusters at me. I was soon on speaking 
terms with her, and told her I wanted a wife, and bade 
her look out for one for me ; but if she failed in the 
search she must take the office herself. After waiting 
a short time, no return being made, I acted on this 
agreement. Young and foolish both, we were married 
at St. Bride's church, April 20, 1800. ... I was 
most happy in my choice, and cannot write in 
adequate terms of my dear partner, who possesses 
four qualities seldom found in one woman good 
nature, sound sense, beauty, and prudence." 

After his marriage, he again opened a shop in St. 
John's Street, Clerkenwell, and here he "wrote all 
night and worked all day," while his partner was 
drinking himself to death. His wife was ill, two of 
the children died, and the future looked terribly 
gloomy ; for a " supposed friend " prevailed upon him 
to discount a bill for 172 14^. gd. out of his little 
capital of two hundred pounds, and the bill, of course, 
turned out to be utterly worthless. In this strait he 
acted with much energy, dissolved his partnership, 
called a meeting of his creditors, and found a friend 
who nobly came forward as a security ; and he left 
his home, declaring he would never return until he 
could pay the uttermost farthing. "God," he writes 
solemnly, " never forsook me. A man may lose his 
property and yet not be ruined ; peace and pride of 
heart may be more than equivalents." 

Tegg now took out a country auction licence, 


and determined to try his fortune in the pro- 

A few words on the book-auction trade may have 
a passing interest here. According to Dibdin, the 
first book auction of which we have any record in 
England occurred in 1676, when Cooper, the book- 
seller, prefixed the following address to his catalogue : 
" Reader, it hath not been usual here in England to 
make sale of books by way of auction, or who will give 
most for them ; but it having been practised in other 
countries, to the great advantage of both buyers and 
sellers, it was therefore conceived (for the encourage- 
ment of learning) to publish the sale of those books 
in this manner of way." The innovation was success- 
ful. Cooper established a reputation as a book- 
auctioneer, and in London such sales became 
common. In a few years we read of the practice 
being extended to Scotland, and to the larger towns in 
England, such as Leeds and York. John Dunton, 
with his usual versatility, took over a cargo of books 
to sell at Dublin, and after that date attendance at 
the country fairs with books to sell by auction became 
quite a distinct branch among the London booksellers. 
The leading auctioneer in Dunton's time was Edward 
Millington. "He had a quick wit and a wonderful 
fluency of speech. There was usually as much wit in 
his ' One, two, three !' as can be met with in a modern 
play. ' Where/ said Millington, ' is your generous 
flame for learning ? Who but a sot or a blockhead 
would have money in his pocket, and starve his 
brains ?'" At this time it appears that bids of one penny 
were very commonly offered and accepted. Book- 
auctioneering soon became a distinct trade altogether, 
and required not only much fluency of speech and 


power of persuasion, but a very exact knowledge of 
the science of bibliography. For this latter speciality 
Samuel Paterson, of King Street, Covent Garden, was 
particularly famous. Perhaps no bookseller ever lived 
who knew so much about the contents of the books 
he sold. When, in compiling his catalogues, he met 
with an unknown book he would sit perusing it for 
hours, utterly unmindful of the time of sale, and 
oblivious of the efforts of his clerk to call his attention 
to the lateness of the time. Baker, Leigh, and 
Sotheby, all of York Street, Covent Garden, were 
also eminent in this branch of the trade ; but the 
prince of book-auctioneers was James Christie, whose 
powers of persuasion were rendered doubly effective 
by a quiet, easy flow of conversation, and a gentle 
refinement of manners. At the close of the century, 
the booksellers' trade sales were held at the Horn 
Tavern, in Doctors' Commons, and were preceded by 
a luxurious dinner, when the bottle and the jest went 
round merrily, and the competition was heightened 
by wine and laughter. 

Tegg, to retake the thread of our story after this 
digression, started with a very poor stock, consisting 
of shilling political pamphlets, and some thousands of 
the Monthly Visitor. At Worcester, however, he 
purchased a parcel of books from a clergyman for ten 
pounds, but when the time for payment arrived the 
good man refused to accept anything. At Worcester, 
too, it was that he held his first auction. "With a 
beating heart I mounted the rostrum. The room 
was crowded. I took 30 that first night, and in a 
few days a knife and fork was provided for me at 
many of the houses of my customers. God helps 
those, I thought, who help themselves." With his 


wife acting as clerk, he travelled through the country, 
buying up the duplicates at all the gentlemen's 
libraries he could hear of, and rapidly paying off his 
debts. This led him to return to his shop in Cheap- 
side, but his ardent desire for advancement involved 
him again in difficulties. " One day I was called from 
the shop three times by the sheriff's officers (a few 
years afterwards I paid a fine of 400 to be excused 
serving sheriff myself). Bailiffs are not always iron- 
hearted. I have met with very kind officers ; some 
have taken my word for debt and costs, and one lent 
me the money to pay both" (O rare bum-bailiff! why 
is not thy name recorded ?). 

Still Tegg was making gradual way, in spite of 
occasional difficulties which again led him to the 
pawnshops, but with more precious pledges than when 
at Berwick he asked a rosy-cheeked Irish girl how he 
might best raise money on a silk handkerchief, for now 
his watch and spoons could accommodate him, when 
needful, with fifty pounds. About this time one of 
the most interesting episodes of his life was com- 
menced. He had purchased a hundred pounds' worth 
of books from Mr. Hunt, who, hearing of his struggles, 
bade him to pay for them when he pleased. Tegg, in 
the fulness of his gratitude, told him that should he> 
in his turn, ever need aid he should have it ; but the 
wealthy bookseller smiled at the young struggler's 
evident simplicity. We will tell the rest of the story 
in Tegg's own words. " Thirty years after, I was in 
my counting-house, when Mr. Hunt, with a queer- 
looking companion, came in and reminded me of my 
promise. He was under arrest, and must go to prison 
unless I would be his bail. I acknowledged the 
obligation, but I would first take my wife's opinion. 


' Yes, my dear, by all means help Mr. Hunt,' was her 
answer. ' He aided us in trouble ; you can do no less 
for him.' Next morning I found I had become his 
surety for thirty thousand pounds. I was sharply 
questioned in court as to my means, and, rubbing his 
hands together, Mr. Barrister remarked that Book- 
selling must be a fine trade, and wished he had been 
brought up to it. I answered, 'The result did not 
depend on the trade, but on the man ; for instance, if 
I had been a lawyer I would not have remained half 
this time in your situation I would have occupied a 
seat with their lordships.' There was a laugh in court, 
and the judge said, ' You may stand down.' " 

When success first really dawned, Tegg began to 
feel poignantly the want of a more complete education; 
however, he determined to employ the powers he 
possessed as best he could. His earliest publications 
consisted B of a series of pamphlets, printed in duo- 
decimo, with frontispieces, containing abridgments of 
popular works ; and the series extended to two 
hundred, many of them circulating to the extent of 
4000 copies. As an instance of his business energy, 
we may cite the following : Tegg heard one morning 
from a friend that Nelson had been shot at Trafalgar. 
He set an engraver to work instantly on a portrait of 
the hero, purchased the Naval Chronicle, found ample 
material for a biography ; and, in a few hours, " The 
Whole Life of Nelson" was ready for the press. Such 
timely assiduity was rewarded by a sale of 5000 
sixpenny copies. On another occasion, when on a 
summer jaunt to Windsor with a friend, it was jocu- 
larly resolved that, as they had come to see the king, 
they ought to make his Majesty pay the expenses of 
the trip. Tegg suggested a Life of Mrs. Mary Anne 


Clarke, with a coloured portrait. 13,600 copies were 
sold at seven-and-sixpence each ; and, as he observes, 
the "bill was probably liquidated." 

Among his other cheap books were " Tegg's 
Chronology," " Philip Quail," and perhaps the most 
successful and useful of all a diamond edition of 
"Johnson's Dictionary," published when the original 
edition was selling at five guineas. 

In 1824 he purchased the copyright of Hone's 
"Every-Day Book" and "Table Book;" republished 
the whole in weekly parts, and cleared a very large 

" I like you and your book, ingenious Hone ! 
In whose capacious, all-embracing leaves 
The very marrow of traditions shown, 

And all that History, much that Fiction weaves." 

So sang Charles Lamb ; and Southey says of these 
two delightful works : "The 'Every-Day Book ' and 
' Table Book ' will be a fortune a hundred years 
hence, but they have failed to make Hone's fortunes." 
However, Tegg gave him five hundred pounds to 
compile the " Year Book," which proved much less 
successful than the others. 

Hone had been a bookseller in the Strand, where 
he probably acquired his miscellaneous stock of 
quaint knowledge about old English customs, and 
all that appertained to a race fast dying out. After 
the famous trial, in which his "Parodies" were charged 
as being " blasphemy," he immediately stopped the 
sale of them ; and, though at that time in urgent need 
of money, he resolutely refused tempting offers for 
copies. " The story of my three-days' trial at Guild- 
hall," he writes, "may be dug out from the journals 
of the period ; the history of my mind, my heart, my 


scepticism, and my atheism remain to be written." It 
is said that he was first awakened to a better way of 
thinking, in the following manner: One day, walking 
in the country, he saw a little girl standing at a door- 
way, and stopped to ask her for a drink of milk; and, 
observing a book in her hand, he inquired what it 
was. She said it was a Bible ; and, in reply to some 
depreciatory remark of his, added, in her simple 
wonder "I thought everybody loved their Bible, sir!" 
By this time Tegg was thriving ; he bought his 
first great-coat, and the first silk pelisse for his wife, 
and was able to make a rule of paying in cash, which 
he found an immense advantage. The book auctions, 
continued nightly at 1 1 1, Cheapside, formed the 
immediate stepping-stone to his wealth. He visited 
all the trade sales, and bought up the " remainders," 
i.e., surplus copies of works in which the original 
publishers had no faith; "I was," he writes, "the 
broom that swept the booksellers' warehouses." At 
one of the dinners preceding these trade sales, he 
heard Alderman Cadell give the then famous toast 
" The Bookseller's four B's "Burns, Blair, Buchan, 
and Blackstone. In the auctioneer's rostrum he was 
very lively and amusing, and the room became well 
known all over London. At one of the last sales, a 
gentleman who purchased a book asked if "he ever 
left off selling for a single night ?" Fifteen years 
before, on his road to the dock to embark for Calcutta, 
he found Tegg busy, and as busy still on his return. 
" If ever man was devoted to his profession, I am that 
man," says Tegg ; and again " I feel that my moral 
courage is sufficient to carry out anything I resolve to 

Now that his own publications were proving very 


lucrative, Tegg resolved to abandon the auctioneering 
portion of the business, and confine himself to the 
more legitimate trade ; and, at his last sale, he took 
upwards of eighty pounds. The purchase and sale of 
remainders, however, still formed a very important 
branch of his traffic. 

About this time he took another journey to Scot- 
land, and had an interview with Sir Walter Scott, who 
had, he says, " nothing in his manner or conversation 
to impress a visitor with his greatness." Immediately 
on his return he made his final remove to the Mansion 
House, Cheapside once the residence of the Lord 
Mayor and the annual current of sales rose in the 
proportion of from eighteen to twenty-two. Now a 
popular as well as a wealthy man, he was elected a 
Common Councillor of the Ward of Cheap, took a 
country house at Norwood, with a beautiful garden 
attached "though I scarcely knew a rose from a 
rhododendron " and set up a carriage. 

It was, of course, from the Mansion House that his 
well-known publications were dated. In 1825, the 
year after the purchase of the " Table Book," he 
published the " London Encyclopaedia ;" it was a time 
of great financial difficulty (as we have, indeed, seen in 
almost all our lives of contemporary publishers) ; his 
bills were dishonoured to the extent of twenty 
thousand pounds ; and the work was began solely to 
give employment to those who had been faithful in 
more prosperous years. The public, however, sup- 
ported the undertaking, and Tegg was rewarded for 
his courage. 

The time of the panic, in 1826, was a season of 
severe trial, in domestic as well as pecuniary matters ; 
and Tegg, though he maintained that few men were 


ever insolvent through mere misfortune, began to fear 
that despondency would deprive him of his reason. 
And now it was that he appreciated more than ever 
the brave qualities of his wife, who roused and manned 
him again to the struggle ; till, in the end, he became 
a gainer rather than a loser by the crisis, for the best 
books were then sold as almost worthless; and at 
Hurst and Robinson's sale he purchased the most 
popular of Scott's novels at fourpence a volume. 

Among his other great " remainder " bargains we 
may mention the purchase of the remainder and 
copyright of " Murray's Family Library" in 1834. 
He bought 1 00,000 volumes at one shilling, and re- 
issued them at more than double the price. His 
greatest triumph of all was, however, the acquisition 
of "Valpy's Delphin Classics," in one hundred and 
sixty-two large octavo volumes, the stock amounting 
to nearly fifty thousand copies, the whole of which 
were sold off in two years. 

To return to his own publications, we find that, up 
to the close of 1840, he had issued four thousand 
works on his own account, and " not more than twenty 
were failures. " 

Tegg's reputation as a bookseller chiefly rests upon 
his cheap reprints and abridgments of popular works ; 
and, in connection with these, his name is mentioned 
in Mr. Carlyle's famous petition on the Copyright Bill. 
Though we have failed to ascertain to what general 
or particular works Mr. Carlyle refers, the petition is 
of such curious interest to all concerned in the writing 
and selling of books, that we do not hesitate to quote 
it in extenso*: 

* This "Petition" was first printed in the Examiner, 7th April, 
1839, and afterwards republished. 



11 To the honourable the Commons of England, in 
Parliament assembled, the Petition of Thomas Carlyle, 
a Writer of Books, 

" Humbly sheweth, 

"That your petitioner has written certain books, 
being incited thereto by various innocent or laudable 
considerations, chiefly by the thought that the said 
books might in the end be'found to be worth something. 

" That your petitioner had not the happiness to 
receive from Mr. Tegg, or any Publisher, Re-publisher, 
Printer, Book-buyer, or other the like men, or body of 
men, any encouragement or countenance in the writing 
of said books, or to discern any chance of receiving 
such ; but wrote them by effort of his own will, and 
the favour of Heaven. 

" That all useful labour is worthy of recompense ; 
that all honest labour is worthy of the chance of 
recompense ; that the giving and assuring to each 
man what recompense his labour has actually merited, 
may be said to be the business of all Legislation, 
Polity, Government and social arrangement what- 
soever among men; a business indispensable to 
attempt, impossible to accomplish accurately, difficult 
to accomplish without inaccuracies that become 
enormous, insupportable, and the Parent of Social 
Confusion which never altogether end. 

" That your petitioner does not undertake to say 
what recompense in money this labour of his may 
deserve ; whether it deserves any recompense in 
money, or whether money in any quantity could hire 
him to do the like. 

" That this labour has found hitherto in money, or 
money's worth, small recompense or none ; but thinks 
that, if so, it will be at a distant time, when he, the 


labourer, will probably be no longer in need of money, 
and those dear to him will still be in need of it. 

" That the law does, at least, protect all persons in 
selling the productions of their labour at what they 
can get for it, in all market-places, to all lengths of 
time. Much more than this the law does to many, 
but so much it does to all, and less than this to none. 

" That your petitioner cannot discover himself to 
have done unlawfully in this his said labour of writing 
books, or to have become criminal, or to have for- 
feited the law's protection thereby. Contrariwise, 
your petitioner believes firmly that he is innocent in 
said labour ; that if he be found in the long-run to 
have written a genuine, enduring book, his merit 
therein, and desert towards England and English and 
other men will be considerable, not easily estimated in 
money ; that, on the other hand, if his book prove 
false and ephemeral, he and it will be abolished and 
forgotten, and no harm done. 

" That in this manner your petitioner plays no un- 
fair game against the world : his stake being life itself, 
(for the penalty is death by starvation), and the 
world's stake nothing, till it see the die thrown ; so 
that in every case the world cannot lose. 

" That in the happy and long-doubtful event of 
the game's going in his favour, your petitioner sub- 
mits that the small winnings thereof do belong to him 
or his, and that no other man has justly either part or 
lot in them at all, now, henceforth, or for ever. 

" May it, therefore, please your Honourable House 
to protect him in said happy and long-doubtful event, 
and (by passing your Copyright Bill), forbid all 
Thomas Teggs, and other extraneous persons entirely 
unconcerned in this adventure of his, to steal from 



him his small winnings, for a space of sixty years, at 
shortest. After sixty years, unless your Honourable 
House provide otherwise, they may begin to steal. 
" And your petitioner will ever pray. 


Tegg did not confine his business to these cheap 
reprints, but issued many books which were altogether 
beyond the popular taste and purse, such as " Black- 
stone," edited by Price ; Smith's " Wealth of Nations," 
Burton's " Anatomy of Melancholy," Locke's Works, 
(in ten volumes), Bishop Butler's Works, and Hooker's 
"Ecclesiastical Polity," &c. Out of Dr. Adam 
Clarke's " Family Bible" he is said to have made a 
small fortune ; the work was stereotyped, and re-issue 
after re-issue was published. 

In 1835 he was nominated Alderman of his Ward, 
but was not elected ; in the following year he was 
chosen Sheriff, and paid the fine to escape serving, 
having resolved to forego any further civic distinc- 
tions. To the usual fine of 400 he added another 
hundred, and the whole went to found a " Tegg 
Scholarship" at the City of London School, and he 
still further increased the value of the gift by adding 
thereto a very valuable collection of books. 

On 2 ist April, 1845, Thomas Tegg died, affer a 
long and painful illness, brought on by over-exertion, 
mental and physical. His third son, Alfred Byron 
Tegg, a youth of twenty, then studying at Pembroke 
College, Oxford, was so affected by the shock of his 
father's death that he died almost on receipt of the 
news, and was buried the same day as his father at 
Wimbledon Thomas Tegg's native village. 

At the commencement of his autobiography, Tegg 
says, and the narrative bears the veracity of the 


statement upon every page : "In sitting down to write 
some account of my past life, I feel as if I were occu- 
pied in making my will. I feel at a loss to express 
fully my emotions. I write in a grateful spirit. What 
I have acquired has been acquired by industry, 
patience, and privation," and he adds elsewhere, " I 
can say in passing through life, whether rich or poor, 
my spirit never forsook me so as to prevent me 
from rallying again. I have seen and associated with 
all ranks and stations in society. I have lodged with 
beggars, and had the honour of presentation to 
Royalty. I have been so reduced as to plead for 
assistance, and, by the goodness of Providence, I have 
been able to render it to others." 

He was generally believed to have been the original 
of Twigg in Hood's " Tylney Hall." 

From the commencement of his career, Tegg made 
commercial success his one aim in life ; and with 
much patience, much endurance, and much labour, he 
achieved it thoroughly, and, in the achieving of it 
honestly, he conferred a great and lasting benefit 
upon the world ; for the book merchant holds in his 
hands the power to do good, or to do evil, far beyond 
any other merchant whatsoever. Rising from a 
humble position in life, he never forgot his early 
friends, never left unrewarded, when possible, his 
early encouragers and assistants. And if he was 
proud in having thus been the architect of his own 
fortune and position, this pride surely was a less 
ignoble one than that which leads one-half the world 
to go through life exultantly, with no other self-con- 
scious merit than having, by a simple accident, been 
born in wealthier circumstances than the other half. 

Tegg left behind him a large family who inherited 


something of their father's energy and vigour. With 
his friendly aid and encouragement they, many of 
them, went elsewhere to seek their fortunes two to 
Australia and two to Dublin ; and with native perse- 
verance, with a name that was known wherever books 
were sold and bought, with their father's connection to 
support them, and their father's stock to fill their shops, 
they have not failed to reap something of their 
father's success. 

Thomas Tegg was succeeded in London by his son 
and late partner, Mr. William Tegg, and under his 
management the business of the house has assumed a 
graver and more staid appearance. In the preface to 
the twelfth edition of Parley's " Tales about Animals," 
Mr. William Tegg claims the authorship of the whole 
series published by him under the pseudonyme of 
" Peter Parley,"* a noni de plume, we believe, that has 
covered more names than any other ever adopted by 
English writers. 

* The bookseller, June, 1864. 



T T AD we space we have all the will to be garru- 
lous, we should infallibly have commenced this 
chapter by a long account of John Newberry, the cele- 
brated publisher of children's literature. His books 
were distinguished by the originality and the homeli- 
ness of their style, and were wonderfully adapted to 
the capacities of the little readers to whom, in one 
instance, at all events, " The History of Little Goody 
Two Shoes," they were specially dedicated : " To all 
young gentlemen and ladies who are good, or intend 
to be good, this book is inscribed, by their old friend, 
Mr. John Newberry, in St. Paul's Churchyard." Mr. 
John Newberry was himself, in many cases, the author 
of these volumes, "price 2d., gilt," which he produced ; 
but he was assisted by men who were distinguished in 
other walks of life, especially by Mr. Griffith Jones, 
editor of the London Chronicle, the Daily Advertiser, 
and the Public Ledger, and by Oliver Goldsmith, who 
makes Dr. Primrose, when sick and penniless at an 


inn, pay a hearty tribute to a traveller who had 
succoured, him. " This person was no other than the 
philanthropic bookseller in St. Paul's Churchyard, 
who had written so many little books for children : he 
called himself their friend, but he was the friend of all 
mankind. He was no sooner alighted but he was in 
haste to be gone, for he was ever on business of the 
utmost importance, and was at that time actually 
compiling materials for the history of one, Mr. Thomas 
Trip." Newberry purchased the copyright of the 
" Traveller " for twenty guineas, and eventually offered 
a hundred guineas for the " Deserted Village," which 
Goldsmith wished to return when he found that he was 
receiving payment at the rate of five shillings a line. 

However historically interesting and bibliographi- 
cally curious, Newberry's business, measured in bulk, 
was as a molehill to a mountain when compared to 
the enormous trade carried on by the largest of our 
modern publishers of juvenile literature perhaps, also 
the largest book-manufacturer in the world. 

Thomas Nelson was born at Throsk, a few miles 
east of Stirling, in the year 1780, and was brought up 
in the very bosom of that strong, stern, unwavering 
religious faith, which has so often seemed the fitting 
complement to the ruggedness of the Scotch character ; 
and which, among the other worldly advantages of its 
system of training, has often prepared its votaries for 
a successful career in business. His father led a quiet, 
retired life upon a small farm, not far from the famous 
field of Bannockburn, and was so satisfied with the 
content of his humble lot, that he repeatedly refused 
to take advantage of offered opportunities of making 
money, by permitting a pottery to be erected on his 
land. In those days, great gatherings of those known 


as the Covenanters took place in many parts of Scot- 
land, at the sacramental seasons, and Nelson's father 
thought but little of travelling forty miles in order 
that he might enjoy the privilege of the communion 
service. Upon the mind of the young lad, who often 
accompanied his father, these meetings, all probably 
that varied the monotony of a rustic life, made an 
indelible impression. When, like many youths of his 
time who had their own paths to clear in the world's 
jungle, he resolved to leave Scotland and to seek his 
fortunes in the West Indies, his father accompanied 
him on the road to Alloa, the place of embarkation, 
and during the journey asked him, " Have you ever 
thought that in the country to which you are going, 
you will be far away from the means of grace ?" 
" No, father," replied the son, " I never thought of 
that ; and I won't go." And immediately the scheme 
was abandoned, and they retraced their steps home- 

When, however, he was about twenty years of age, 
young Nelson tore himself from the parental roof, and 
went to London, and after passing through all the 
difficulties that are so familiar to young lads who have 
to fight their own battles unaided, he entered the ser- 
vice of a publishing-house an event that determined, 
doubtless, the course of his after-life. One of his early 
associates in business was Thomas Kelly, and, like his 
friend, Nelson, while diligent and conscientious in his 
daily duties, still found time for intellectual and 
religious culture. With a few young Scotchmen, he 
established a weekly-fellowship meeting, which was 
held every Sunday. One of the association was em- 
ployed at the dockyard, during Lord Melville's admin- 
istration at the Admiralty, and lost his situation through 


his refusal to work on Sundays. Lord Melville, how- 
ever, who had often seen him in the dockyard, en- 
quired the cause of his absence, and on learning the 
fact of his dismissal, severely rebuked the officials, 
and shortly afterwards advanced him to a higher post. 

In the latter years of Nelson's residence inLondon,he 
was engaged in obtaining orders for the Stratford Edition 
of " Henry's Bible," a work issued in shilling parts, to 
be bound up in six large folio volumes, which was 
held in high repute, and attained a large circulation. 
Nelson secured the names of a great number of sub- 
scribers, chiefly in the northern district of London. 

After having thus received the necessary business 
training, and acquired the necessary commercial ex- 
perience, Nelson determined to make a start upon his 
own account, and left London for Edinburgh. Here 
at first he rented a small apartment, which he occupied 
as a book-warehouse, stocked chiefly with second- 
hand books, and from this little establishment he 
issued the " Scots Worthies," and one or two other 
works, in monthly parts. In a few years afterwards 
he removed to the well-known small shop at the 
corner of the West Bow. Here he commenced his 
cheap issues in 241110., of such works as Baxter's 
" Saints' Rest," Booth's " Reign of Grace," " Mac Ewan 
on the Types," and some of Willison's works. Indeed, 
we have been told, epigrammatically, that Nelson, in 
this little corner shop of the West Bow, commencing 
with a humble reprint of " The Vicar of Wakefield/' 
arrived in time at the more ponderous honour of 
" Josephus." In his early publishing career, he and 
Peter Brown, another bookseller engaged in the same 
line of business in Edinburgh, were of considerable 
service to each other, for though they were not in 


partnership, they contributed jointly to defray the 
cost of composing and stereotyping a considerable 
number of octavo volumes, comprising the works of 
Paley, Leighton, Romaine, Newton, and others. Thus, 
half the cost of production was saved to each, while 
the stock of each was doubled. These books were 
not at first sold through the booksellers, but vacant 
shops were opened in the evenings in the large towns, 
where single copies were sold by auction, and the 
same practice was extended to smaller places, chiefly 
on the periodical recurrence of the Scotch fairs. This 
innovation, of course, excited a strong feeling of 
animosity among the trade, who, for some years, did 
their best to thwart the sale of Nelson's publications. 
Indeed, in 1829, when Nelson, encouraged by the suc- 
cess of his auction sales, engaged Mr. James Macdonald 
to travel Scotland regularly, his mission, owing to the 
stigma attached to the auction business, was a failure. 
At Aberdeen the booksellers rose up in arms, and 
only one bookseller, Mr. George King, had the courage 
to give Macdonald an order. 

Though opposed in the country, and though for 
many years he did not accumulate much capital, yet, 
from his well-known and strict integrity, Nelson never 
wanted funds to carry out his plans. At the very 
time that Macdonald was suffering defeat in each 
country town, Nelson was enabled to purchase from a 
printer, at a comparatively low price, " Macknight on 
the Epistles/' in four volumes, octavo ; and the popu- 
larity of that work forced a quick sale throughout the 
trade, and gave his business a very considerable 

Nelson was still convinced that the only method of 
extending his business to any 'considerable importance, 


was by means of a regular system of travelling, and 
Macdonald was succeeded by Mr. Peters ; whose success 
was considerably greater; but it was not until Mr. 
William Nelson, the eldest son of the founder, took to 
the road, that the trade business was really consoli- 
dated, not only in Scotland, but also in London and 
the chief towns of the united kingdom. In fact, it 
may be said, that Mr. William Nelson was the real 
builder of the business, working upwards from a 
foundation that was certainly narrow and circum- 
scribed. Mr. Thomas Nelson, the younger brother, 
was soon after this admitted to the firm, and under- 
took the energetic superintendence of the manufac- 
turing department, and was the originator of the 
extensive series of school-books. 

Johnson of Liverpool used to narrate that he re- 
membered young Nelson on his first (English) 
journey, and that he gave him what Nelson called a 
" braw order." Shortly after this he was, according 
to the same authority, joined by Mr. James Camp- 
bell, who left the carpenter's bench to become a 
"bagman," and was soon the chief assistant in the 
firm's employ.* 

Before this, however, the energy displayed by Mr. 
William Nelson had thoroughly consolidated the 
business, and had entirely dissipated the previous 
prejudice excited by the auction sales, the more es- 
pecially as the lowest prices were at once fixed to the 
trade upon every book issued by the establishment. 
Mr. Campbell's success as a commercial man was 
considerable, and by his subsequent energy and in- 
tegrity as an agent, at home and in the colonies, the 

* The Bookseller, 1861. 


demand for Messrs. Nelson and Sons' books began to 
assume a considerable magnitude. 

In 1843, the firm removed their place of business to 
Hope Park ; we shall refer to this establishment sub- 
sequently and upon the death of Peter Brown (he 
had for some years ceased to co-operate actively with 
them), the stereotype plates which had been the joint 
property of both firms, became by purchase the 
exclusive possessions of Messrs. Nelson, and this gave 
them an advantage in the market they did not 
formerly possess. 

Even while in London, Nelson had collected the 
works of his favourite divines for his private use, and 
he now carried out more thoroughly the scheme, 
commenced in conjunction with Peter Brown, of pub- 
lishing cheap editions of such books that they might 
be brought within the easy reach of thousands. Such 
cheap issues are now a common feature of the trade, 
but he was one of the first Edinburgh booksellers to 
introduce the new order of things. The series was very 
popular, but still it was by the publication of juvenile 
literature that Nelson's great commercial success was 
achieved. The works of this special, and apparently 
inexhaustible class were distinguished by a good 
moral tendency, purity of diction, and elegance of 
production, and were laudably free from sectarian 
bias, and extreme opinion. It will, perhaps, suffice 
our present purpose to instance, among his many au- 
thors, R. M. Ballantyne, as a favourite with his boyish, 
and A. L. O. E. with her girlish, readers. One of 
Nelson's periodicals attained a large circulation ; this 
was the Family Treasury, edited by Dr. Andrew 
Cameron, and numbering among its contributors such 
writers as Dr. Guthrie, Dr. Vaughan, Dean Trench, 


and Brownlow North ; in its columns the charming 
" Chronicles of the Schonberg Cotta Family" first 

Among the greatest of the more recent triumphs of 
the firm in the way of books for children, was the in- 
troduction of coloured illustrations upon a black 
background a striking and emphatic method of 
throwing the coloured pictures into strong relief; the 
books illustrated upon this principle proved so suc- 
cessful that a host of imitators adopted the same 
method. The firm are also well known as extensive 
publishers of a greatly improved series of school- 
books, of maps, embracing new and ingenious features, 
and of gift and prize books. Latterly, however, they 
have entered into a wider and more liberal field, and 
their current catalogue embraces works in most de- 
partments of literature. 

For the last five-and-twenty years of his life, Nel- 
son was more or less of an invalid ; though from 
1843 to 1850 he enjoyed a kind of respite; but 
during this whole period his sons were associated 
with him in the business, and during the latter and 
greater portion of it, the management devolved en- 
tirely upon them. Thomas Nelson, the founder, died 
on March 23rd, 1861, and showed upon his death- 
bed the effects of that strong piety to which, since a 
child, he had accustomed his mind. When it was 
thought proper to announce to him that his end was 
near, he received the intelligence with the calmest 
equanimity : " I thought so ; my days are wholly in 
God's hands. He doeth all things well. His will be 
done !" and then he took up his Testament again, 
saying, " Now I must finish my chapter." He was 
buried in the Grange Cemetery, among many Scot- 


tish worthies, and lies side by side with Hugh 

Thomas Nelson was distinguished not only by his 
energy and strict integrity, but by a generous hos- 
pitality of the genuine Scottish type. Even when his 
business was of very small dimensions, his old- 
fashioned dining-room was generally filled by the 
Scottish clergy, when any general meeting brought 
them to the metropolis. 

Messrs. William and Thomas Nelson, of course, 
continued the business, and we cannot, perhaps, con- 
vey a better idea of the magnitude to which the trade 
has in their hands extended than by giving a descrip- 
tion of their establishment in all its branches, and for 
this description we are indebted chiefly to Mr. Brem- 
ner's " Industries of Scotland." 

Taking printing, publishing, and bookbinding 
together, Thomas Nelson and Sons, of Hope Park, 
are the most extensive house in Scotland. They 
removed to their present establishment a quarter of a 
century ago, and were compelled, after a lapse of ten 
years, to build a new range of offices far exceeding 
anything of the kind in the city of Edinburgh, and 
probably unparalleled out of it. The main part of 
the building consists of three conjoined blocks, forming 
three sides of a square. Part of the surrounding 
ground is laid out as an ornamental grass-plot, and 
a new machine-room has been recently erected upon 
another portion. 

In the main building there are three floors ap- 
portioned to the various branches of the trade. 
Machinery is used wherever it is possible, and by its 
aid, and by a well-organized system of division of 
labour, the number of books manufactured is enor- 


mous. Everything, from the compilation of a book 
to the lettering of its binding, is done upon the pre- 
mises, and for the founts of type and the paper alone 
are the proprietors indebted to outside help. 

The letterpress department consists of a spacious 
composing-room, a splendidly fitted machine-room, a 
press-room, and a stereotype foundry. As very large 
numbers of the works are issued, they are almost 
invariably printed from stereotype plates a process 
said to have been invented by William Ged, a gold- 
smith in -Edinburgh at the beginning of the last 
century; the Dutch, however, with some justice, 
claim the discovery for one of their countrymen, a 
very long time before this date ; at all events, the 
process was still almost a novelty when, as we have 
seen, Kelly first utilized it in London. In the 
machine-room and the press-room there are nineteen 
machines and seventeen presses constantly at work. 
Here large numbers of children's books are produced, 
and a number of machines are devoted to colour 

From the machine-room the sheets are taken to the 
drying-room, where they are hung up in layers upon 
screens, which, when filled, are run into a hot-air 
chamber, where the ink is thoroughly dried in six or 
eight hours. 

The book-binding department occupies several 
large rooms, and employs two-thirds of all the work- 
people engaged. Although machines are provided 
for a great variety of operations, a large amount of 
hand-labour is found to be indispensable. As soon 
as the sheets have been thoroughly dried, they are 
folded by young women, as the machine-folding is 
only suitable for the coarser kinds of work. After 


this process, the sheets are arranged by another staff 
of girls in the proper order for binding, compressed 
in a powerful press, and notches for the binding cords 
are cut by a machine. They are then passed on to 
the sewers, who sit upon long benches plying their 
deft needles. 

The case-makers have by this time prepared the 
cases, and in connection with this department there is 
a cloth-dyeing and embossing branch, where the cloths 
are prepared ; the coloured and enamelled papers for 
the insides are also' made upon the premises. The 
case-makers are divided into half-a-dozen different 
sections, each of which performs a certain and distinct 
portion of the work. The pasteboard and cloth are 
first cut to the required size, and then one girl spreads 
the glue upon the cloth, a second lays the board upon 
its proper place, a third tucks the cloth in all round, a 
fourth smoothes off the work, and the covers are now 
taken to the embosser, who puts on the ornamental 
additions, and finally the books are fixed in the cases, 
and sent down to their warehouse, whence they are 
despatched to all corners of the world, principally, of 
course, to the London and New York branches. 

The lithographic establishment comprises a number 
of rooms. Sixteen machines and presses are con- 
stantly engaged, principally in the production of maps, 
book illustrations, coloured pictures, and the beauti- 
fully-tinted lithographic views, which Messrs. Nelson 
were mainly instrumental in introducing to the notice 
of the public. Among the artists employed here in 
executing preliminary work are photographers, 
draughtsmen, steel, copper, and wood engravers, and 
electrotypers. By a process patented by Messrs. 
Nelson, in conjunction with Mr. Ramage (to whose 



services they owe much of the superiority of their 
illustrations), a drawing or print may be converted 
into an engraving suitable for printing from by the 
simple action of light, and these engravings, either for 
copper-plate or letter-press printing, may be multi- 
plied and made larger or smaller at will. The store- 
rooms are said to contain upwards of fifty thousand 
wood-cuts and electrotypes. 

Even the inks and varnishes are manufactured upon 
the premises, 

Messrs. Thomas Nelson and Sons employ some 
four hundred and fifty work-people in their establish- 
ment, about one- half of whom are young women. 

The whole of Scotland is of course supplied from 
the head-quarters in Hope Park ; but they have also 
large branches in London and New York. The 
former situated in, or rather forming, Warwick Build- 
ings, at the corner of Paternoster Row is, though a 
branch, as large a bookselling warehouse as any in 
London, and in its interior arrangements is unrivalled. 
The basement storey is devoted to the stowage of 
wholesale stock and the execution of export and 
country orders, and over the shop there are four lofty 

The Scotch have during the century especially cul- 
tivated the trade of printing and bookselling. In the 
former branch alone, ten thousand persons are em- 
ployed in Scotland, five thousand of whom are engaged 
in the capital. In 1860 there were in Edinburgh no 
less than thirty firms, who combine the united business 
of publishing and bookselling, besides ninety who con- 
fine themselves to bookselling alone. The eight or 
nine leading houses, with one exception, print them- 
selves the books they sell ; a practice which is almost 


indigenous to Edinburgh, or, at all events, does not 
obtain in London. The advantage of cheap labour, 
which includes, of course, cheap paper, are here so 
great, especially in the issue of large editions, as to 
more than counteract the drawback in the shape of 
transit cost to, and agents' commission in, Londori; 
We have already entered into the history of several 
of these leading Edinburgh houses, and as our space is 
growing scanty, we can scarcely now do more tharl 
mention the firm of Oliver and Boyd ; and though, 
from their long standing and importance, the career 
of the house would afford material for an interesting 
chapter, we must hope to have an opportunity of re- 
curring to the subject at a not very distant time. 
Formerly Oliver and Boyd enjoyed a very large share 
of the Scotch country business, and occupied indeed 
much the same position in the northern, as is held by 
Simpkin, Marshall, and Co., in the southern, capital. 
Of later years, however, their attention has been more 
exclusively fixed upon the publication of educational 
works, and among the writers whose books have been 
issued by them, the names of Spalding, Reid, Morell, 
White, and McCulloch, are known to every school- 
boy. " The Edinburgh Academy Class-Books " have 
also attained a very wide circulation far beyond the 
walls of the Edinburgh Academy ; and " Oliver and 
Boyd's Catechisms," published at the low price of 
ninepence each, are used in nearly all elementary 
classes where science, in any form, is taught. As a 
book of reference for students of every grade, of a 
larger growth, Oliver and Boyd's Edinburgh Almanac 
is, perhaps, unrivalled for the fulness and yet concise- 
ness of every branch of official information, at all 
essential to the inhabitants of Scotland. 

26 2 



T 17"E have, by this time, given historico-biographical 
notices of publishers and booksellers, repre- 
senting very various phases of the "trade;" but we 
have still to show how, in the economy of publishing, 
and through an ingenious division of labour, the 
smaller booksellers in town, and all the booksellers in 
the country and the colonies, are kept constantly sup- 
plied with books and periodicals.. 

Before a new book is published, the work is taken 
round to the larger houses in the " Row," and other 
parts of London, and " subscribed," that is the first 
price to the trade, and the actual selling price to the 
public are quoted, and orders at the former price are 
given, according to the purchaser's faith in the ex- 
pected popularity of the work in question. 

The wholesale houses, in their turn, supply all the 
country, colonial, and smaller London orders, reaping, 
of course, a due advantage from having the volumes 
demanded already stowed in their warehouses. 

By far the largest business in this branch of the 


trade is executed by the old-established firm of 
Simpkin, Marshall, and Company, and though they 
by no means confine their attention solely to the com- 
mission-paying business of middlemen for they are 
themselves publishers of educational and other widely- 
circulating works yet their name has long, through- 
out the length and breadth of the land, been held 
synonymous with this wholesale supply of the require- 
ments of other houses. 

The real founder of this enormous traffic was, 
Benjamin Crosby. The son of a Yorkshire grazier, 
he came to London to seek his fortunes, and was 
apprenticed to James Nunn, a bookseller in Great 
Queen Street. As soon as his indentures had ex- 
pired, he obtained a situation under George Robinson 
the " King of the Booksellers " and, in a few years 
after this, succeeded to the business of Mr. Stalker, of 
Stationers' Hall Court. Crosby was one of the first 
London booksellers who travelled regularly through 
the country, soliciting orders for the purpose of effect- 
ing sales and extending his connections. In a short 
time he acquired a pre-eminence as a supplier of the 
country houses, and also as one of the largest pur- 
chasers at trade sales, especially when publishers' 
stocks were sold off. The extension of the business 
had been very materially assisted by the unremitting 
exertions of two assistants Simpkin and Marshall 
and when, in 1814, he was stricken by a sudden attack 
of paralysis, he made over a certain portion of his 
stock and the whole of his country connection to 
Robert Baldwin, and Cradock and Joy, he left the 
remainder, with the premises and the London connec- 
tion, to Simpkin and Marshall. Soon after this, a 
second attack deprived him of his speech, and for a 


time of his reason, and he died in the following year, 

Under Simpkin and Marshall, which was now, of 
course, the new title of the firm, the business soon 
began again to expand, for they retained most of their 
London connections, and following Crosby's example, 
attracted the attention of many country clients, whom 
they not only supplied with books, but for whose 
publications they became the London agents a busi- 
ness without speculative risk, and consequently profit- 
able. For instance, in 1827, an unpretentious little 
volume " Poems by Two Brothers," having the 
modest motto, Hcec nos novimns esse nihil, published 
by J. and J. Jackson, Louth, was also stamped with 
the imprimatur of Simpkin and Marshall, and thus 
they had the signal honour of being Mr. Tennyson's 
first London publishers, though very probably the 
honour in this case was greater than the profit. 

In 1828, Simpkin retired, or rather was bought out 
of the business by Mr. Miles, who immediately took 
the financial management of the whole concern, and 
the firm adopted the new title of " Simpkin, Marshall 
and Co." Simpkin, however, did not die until the 
25th of December, 1854, and thus enjoyed a long 
period of peaceful superannuation. 

The practice of lending their names to the works 
published by their country clients, though free from 
business venture, was not unattended by legal risk, 
for in 1 834 they had an action brought against them for 
libel, which at the time attracted a very general and 
lively interest ; though they were indicted solely as 
the London agents of Tait's Edinburgh Magazine, in 
which a series of articles had appeared, reflecting on 
the conduct of Richmond, a man notorious as a spy, 


and who, as an instrument of the Government, had 
procured the execution of Hardie and his companion 
at Glasgow in the winter of 1819 20. Richmond 
laid the damages that his character had sustained at 
the absurd figure of five thousand pounds, but Mr. 
Serjeant Talfourd, to whom the defence was entrusted, 
so thoroughly exposed the antecedents and present 
means of livelihood of the plaintiff that before the 
trial was over he was absolutely fain to withdraw his 
action and elect to be non-suited. 

In 1837 Baldwin and Cradock failed, and handed 
over the country connection they had derived from 
Crosby, to Simpkin, Marshall and Company. This 
occurred on the October "Magazine day" of that year; 
for three days and three nights the partners and their 
assistants never left the establishment at Stationers' 
Hall Court, and Baldwin's country clients were so 
pleased that they had been spared so much expected 
delay and annoyance that one and all resolved to 
keep their business in the hands of their new agents ; 
and with this addition to their trade, the business 
relations of Simpkin, Marshall and Company were 
now infinitely beyond anything that even Crosby had 
before experienced. 

In 1855, Richard Marshall retired from the 
business, and consequently, the management of the 
concern remained almost entirely in the hands of Mr, 
Miles's two sons. Marshall died at the ripe age of 
seventy-five, on the I7th of November, 1863, 

In 1859 the premises were rebuilt and enlarged, 
and every possible improvement, to save trouble and 
economise time, was introduced into the new establish- 
ment. Among the gentlemen who had been employed 
in the old warehouse was Mr. F. Laurie, a barrister-at- 


law, who afterwards served in the printed-book 
department of the British Museum, and who was 
widely known as the author of a " Life of Henry 
Fielding," and as a frequent contributor to periodical 
literature. As none of the country booksellers have 
more than one London agent, by him they are 
supplied with the books and periodicals of all the 
London publishers, an arrangement that saves an 
infinity of trouble, expense and delay. A century 
ago, in the days of small things, the agent made him- 
self useful to the provincial bookseller in many other 
ways than in the mere supplying of publications. In 
many cases he was expected to forward the news- 
papers, but other and stranger commissions often fell 
to his lot. A great wholesale house in London at 
the present day would be rather surprised to receive 
the following orders, which, however, all occur in a 
bookseller's records late in the eighteenth century : 
" I sliding Gunter from some of the instrument 
makers ;" "two-eighth share of lottery-tickets ;" " I oz. 
of Maker's Cobalt, as advertized on the cover of the 
Gentleman's Magazine ;" or a direction "to please 
and send on Saturday, and pay Mr. Barratt, Parlia- 
ment Place, Palace Yard, Westminster, 1 os. 6d., 
King's Rent, due loth of October last, for the 
Vicarage of Holy Cross, Shrewsbury." 

We cannot, perhaps, convey a better idea of the 
manner in which business is conducted by these 
wholesale houses in the " Row," than by giving a 
description of " Magazine day," by far the busiest 
time in each month. Very quiet is Paternoster Row 
generally, and its solitude is broken only by the 
fitful and fleeting appearance of publishers, their 
agents, and literary men the latter, as a rule, in 


clerical costume, with white neckties which betray 
their avocation as lying in " the religious publication 
line of business ;" while its silence is broken by some 
venturous barrel-organ player, or by an old blind 
fiddler, whose music is appreciated and encouraged 
by the young shop-boys, lurking behind each alley 
corner to enjoy the furtive pipe. But on " Magazine 
day" all this is changed, the street is now a struggling 
scene of bustle and confusion ; now every house is in 
a thrill of agitation from the garret to the cellar, and 
now every business nerve is strained. Owing to the in- 
convenient innovation of magazine proprietors, in pub- 
lishing their periodicals on different days, " Magazine 
day" has lost much of its pristine glory, but even now 
the work commences on the eve of the chief day of pub- 
lication, which is known consequently as "late night," 
for the assistants are generally kept busily engaged 
till twelve or one o'clock. By the morning's post of 
this preceding day the country orders arrive, and the 
invoices have to be made out from the lists received. 
Every regular customer has his allotted pigeon-hole, 
into which the invoices are put as soon as copied, 
together with such of the books he has ordered as are 
on the premises ; for the majority of the smaller 
country booksellers take advantage of their monthly 
parcels, and to save expense of frequent railway 
carriage, include also in their orders such recent 
books as they may require. Early in the morning, or 
sometimes on the night before, the magazines arrive, 
and it is on this morning that the real work begins, 
for though as large a stock of current literature is 
kept in each warehouse as is possible, there are still 
many publishers to be sent to. While the assistants 
are busily engaged sorting out the books, and supply- 


ing each order with the works they have in hand, the 
" collectors " are furnished with lists of the books 
required from other houses. The " collector " is by 
no means an unimportant person in a publisher's 
establishment; though "seedy" in attire and suspicious 
in general appearance, he is entrusted with large 
sums of money, for the cheaper publications are all 
paid for in ready cash. Bag in hand he rushes in hot 
haste all over London, and with an impudent tongue 
and a pair of brawny shoulders, thrusts himself to 
the front place before each publisher's counter. As 
we listen for a moment to the reply he receives as to 
the price of a cheap periodical, we may gain an insight 
into the middleman's system of profit. " Sixes are 
fours and twelves are thirteens !" yells the shop-boy, 
the which being interpreted means that the whole- 
sale price of the sixpenny periodical in question is 
fourpence, and that thirteen copies go to the dozen. 

The bustle at each establishment is, of course, 
greatly increased by the fact that each house has to 
supply the wants of others, as well as to satisfy its 
own all the counters of the wholesale booksellers 
being filled with screeching collectors, with greedily- 
gaping bags. Early in the afternoon, however, the 
collectors return, and now the books, magazines, and 
invoices are carried into the packing department, and 
such works as could not be obtained are written off 
as " out of print," &c. Packing is an art not easily 
acquired, and necessitates the patient and skilful use 
of much brown paper, and, in many houses, of paper- 
pulp stereo-moulds, by way of stiffening. The 
smaller parcels are finished first, and as soon as all 
are ready for removal the carriers' carts and vans 
arrive ; all entering the Row in regular order from 


the Ludgate Hill end, and leaving it in the direction 
of Cheapside. By the time that peace and quietude 
are restored to the neighbourhood, some two and a 
half millions of volumes and periodicals (Simpkin, 
Marshall and Company alone having probably 
despatched from six to eight hundred different 
parcels) are flying from London to all parts of the 
kingdom to be greedily devoured and depreciat- 
ingly criticised on the morrow. 

Not the least profitable portion of the business 
done by Simpkin, Marshall and Company lies in their 
Colonial trade, for in this branch, in common with 
other houses, they insist upon ready money payments, 
and consequently all bad and doubtful debts are 

Besides holding many valuable copyrights in edu- 
cational works, and publishing to a large extent upon 
commission, they, as we have previously shown, are 
the London agents for all works published by their 
country clients. Nothing, perhaps, is more curious 
among modern " literary curiosities " than the sudden 
and unparalleled popularity of a small pamphlet 
entitled " Dame Europa's School," written in a style 
and manner not unfamiliar to us in Swift's inimitable 
" Tale of a Tub ;" witty, certainly, and undeniably 
apropos to the times, this clever skit was taken by 
its author, Mr. Pullen, a minor canon of Salisbury 
Cathedral, through the usual round of the London 
publishers, and, as usual with pamphlets, they one 
and all declined even to read the manuscript. Mr. 
Pullen, in despair, gave it to Mr. Brown, a bookseller 
of Salisbury, to publish on commission that is, the 
author undertook all the risk, and the publisher 
charged merely a certain percentage on the sales and 


limited the amount that was to be spent in advertis- 
ing to two or three pounds. As Simpkin, Marshall 
and Company were Mr. Brown's London agents, the 
metropolitan sale was entrusted to their care. With- 
out any further trouble or expenditure, the little 
venture was launched, and in something like a week 
had created such a furore that the printing had to be 
transferred to London, and Mr. Pullen is stated to 
have cleared a handsome sum from the extraordinary 
sale of his pamphlet, and the commissions gathered by 
the London and the country publishers were certainly 
unprecedented in connection with a little venture of this 
description. The London booksellers to whom it had 
been offered now began to bestir themselves, and in a 
few weeks there were no less than seven-and-thirty 
imitations of " Dame Europa's School " in the field, 
more than one of which are said to have been written 
by very high dignitaries of the Church. All of these 
have, however, already disappeared from circulation, 
though it seems probable that the marvellously clever 
illustrations to the original " Dame Europa's School," 
by Mr. Nast, one of the few really humorous artists 
that America has produced, will preserve it for a time 
from the usual fate of ephemeral literature. 



T EAVING for a while the publishers and vendors 
-* * of books, we come now to the truest dissemina- 
tors of literature among those who would otherwise 
have formed a non-reading, non-thinking, untaught 
class in the community a class who, originally at all 
events, were shut out from the inheritance of the 
precious garnerings bequeathed by long generations 
of writers having aught of genius, wit, or industry to 
leave behind for they were debarred from all enjoy- 
ment of such heritage through their sheer inability to 
pay the literary legacy duty demanded by the ap- 
pointed tax-gatherers, the booksellers. 

In former times, of course, the very capability to 
read was confined to the student, and to the poor 
student especially were the early circulating libraries 
addressed. The first circulating library of which we 
have any authentic history for most history is much 
other than authentic was, according to Dr. Adam 
Clarke and other eminent antiquarians, founded at 


Caesarea about the year 309 A.D., by St. Pamphilus, 
who united in his character the best attributes of the 
Christian and the philosopher. In a few years the 
library contained upwards of 30,000 volumes, an 
enormous number, considering the age at which it 
existed. The collection was, however, intended only 
for religious purposes, and the loan of the books was 
distinctly confined to "religiously disposed persons." 
At Paris and elsewhere traces of this collection are 
still said to exist. 

In the middle ages, the practice of lending out 
books, or exchanging them between monastery and 
monastery, was not uncommon, and by the early 
stationers of Paris the manuscripts were cut up into 
small portions (much as the present librarian's novel 
requires to be divided into three volumes), to the 
greater profit of the lenders ; but we come to very 
modern times before we find that circulating libraries, 
in the modern acceptation of the term, were estab- 

The first circulating library in London was founded 
by Wright, a bookseller of 132, Strand, about the year 
1730. Franklin, writing of a time some five years 
previous to this, says : " While I lodged in Little 
Britain, I formed an acquaintance with a bookseller of 
the name of Wilcox, whose shop was next door to 
me. Circulating libraries were not tJien in use. We 
agreed that for a reasonable retribution, of which I 
have forgotten the price, I should have free access to 
his library, and take what books I pleased, which I 
was to return when I had read them." Among 
Wright's earliest rivals were the Nobles, John Bell 
(the cheap publisher), Thomas Lowndes, and notably 
Samuel Bathoe, who died in 1768, and to whom, 


erroneously, the credit of the innovation has been 
very generally attributed. As late, however, as 1770, 
there were only four real circulating libraries in the 

The practice soon spread through the country. 
Shortly after Wright's death, Hatton established a 
circulating library at Birmingham. In 1745, Watts 
introduced a circulating library into Cambridge, 
greatly extended afterwards by John Nicholson, 
known by the sobriquet of " Maps," who used to 
carry a sack of books to each undergraduate's rooms, 
in case they felt a sudden inclination for reading 
something newer than Homer, Xenophon, or Euclid. 
By the year 1755 we find that circulating libraries had 
extended to the extreme north of England, for New- 
castle then boasted the possession of two. 

Though the custom was rapidly obtaining in town 
and country, the books lent out to read were generally 
very similar in title to those in the famous list in the 
" Rivals," which caused Sir Anthony Absolute's con- 
demnation " A circulating library in a town is an 
evergreen tree of diabolical knowledge ; it blossoms 
throughout the year. And depend on it, that they 
who are so fond of handling the leaves will long for 
the fruit at last." We have still only to go to our 
little country towns and petty watering-places few 
now, fortunately, still beyond the arm of " Smith " 
or "Mudie" to see the circulating library in its 
pristine form. 

At first the benefits that must inevitably accrue 
from the movement to the publishers as well as to the 
public were by no means recognized. Lackington 
tells us that " when the circulating libraries were first 
opened the booksellers were most alarmed, but 


experience has proved that the sale of books, so far 
from being diminished thereby, has been most greatly 

Under the care of Hookham and Eber, these circu- 
lating libraries did undoubtedly improve, for the 
proprietors now began to consider the wants of 
students as well as the idle pleasure of loungers who 
thought with Gray that the acme of human happiness 
consisted in lying upon a sofa reading the latest 
licentious novelties of Crebillon fils and his genus. 
The movement was further accelerated by the founda- 
tion of book-clubs, the first of which is said to have 
sprung out of Burn's " Bachelor's Club." For forty 
or fifty years these book-clubs did good service in the 
cause of education and progress, especially under the 
fostering care of Mr. Charles Knight and the Society 
for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge ; but soon an 
organizing genius arose who was not only to render 
book-clubs, save those affiliated to his own, unneces- 
sary, but was to develop the full power of co-opera- 
tion in the circulating library itself. And his advent 
was favoured by a wonderfully extended system of 
transport through the agency of the railways. 

Charles Edward Mudie was born in the year 1818, 
in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, where his father kept a 
little newspaper shop, at which stationery and other 
articles were retailed, and where books of the fugitive 
fiction class could be borrowed at the usual suburban 
charge of a penny the volume. 

Mr. Mudie's education was, as he says, " properly 
cared for," and he stayed at home assisting in his 
father's business until he was twenty-two years of age ; 
and even in his early days he made it his great ambi- 
tion to possess a circulating library of his own, declar- 

Charles Edward Mudie, founder of Muclie's Library. 


ing that when once.he was started he would be second 
to none. 

In the year 1840, he opened a little shop in Upper 
King Street, Bloomsbury, and he carried on precisely 
the same trade as his father did in Cheyne Walk. 
By degrees, however, he neglected the newspaper and 
general stationery business, and devoted himself more 
exclusively to the circulating library, which he in- 
creased at such a rapid rate that the father became 
alarmed at the speculative spirit of his son. In 1842, 
Mr. Mudie commenced his system of lending out one 
exchangeable volume to subscribers at the rate of 
a guinea per annum ; and as he made the addition of 
every new work, immediately upon its publication, a 
feature in his establishment, he produced an entire 
revolution in the circulating library movement, and 
was rewarded by a rapidly increasing number of sub- 
scribers. Nor did he at this early period confine his 
dealings solely to circulating the books of other pub- 
lishers. He was himself in some instances a publisher, 
and from his establishment issued the first English 
edition of James R. Lowell's "Poems," and Mr. George 
Dawson's first " Orations." 

In 1852 the library had grown too large for the 
house in Upper King Street, and he removed his 
business to two houses which form part of his present 
establishment the penultimate house in New Oxford 
Street, and the penultimate house in Museum Street ; 
and though the corner house intervened, the two were 
connected by a passage. Gradually, as the business 
grew, the houses on either side were absorbed. In 
1860 the large hall was opened, and inaugurated by a 
festive gathering of literary men and publishers ; and 
the entire block of building, as it stands at present, 



occupies the sites of eight houses, and even now great 
additions are being made to the rear of the premises. 
As the popularity of the library increased, branch 
houses were opened in the city, in Birmingham and 
Manchester, and arrangements were made with literary 
institutions, provincial libraries, book-clubs, and so- 

The magnitude of the business had, however, now 
grown beyond the limit of individual capital, and, in 
1864, Mr. Mudie found it desirable to form his library 
into a limited liability company. The value of 
the property was estimated at 100,000 ; of this he 
reserved 50,000, and the remaining 50,000 was 
immediately subscribed by Mr. Murray, Mr. Bentley, 
and other publishers ; Mr. Mudie's services being, 
naturally, retained at a salary of 1,000 per annum, 
in addition to his half interest in the business. 

This change, and the increase of capital, proved in 
every way beneficial to the expansion of the library ; 
and since penning this account we have received a 
circular announcing an enormous increase of busi- 
ness. From the i8th August, 1871, the Directors of 
Mudie's Select Library (Limited) became possessors 
of the English and Foreign Library and its large 
connection. This library, which was originally known 
as " Hookham's," at one time possessed one of the 
finest collections of rare and valuable standard works 
in London. 

On entering Mudie's Select Library, from New 
Oxford Street, we pass through the show-rooms devoted 
to the sale of bound books; for though the directors do 
not enter into the usual speculations of the bookselling 
trade, the clean copies of popular works are put into 
ornamental bindings, and in this manner a very 


extensive business is done in works adapted for 
presents and prizes. Behind these show-rooms stands 
the Great Hall, a large room, on the wall of which 
16,000 of the current works most in vogue are 
shelved. What most strikes us here is the great 
order and method that everywhere obtains. The 
volumes are arranged in alphabetical order, and every 
attendant goes straight to the required book, without 
hesitation or delay. For each London customer a 
card is reserved bearing his name, and these cards 
are kept, like the books, in an alphabetical system. 
The books taken out are entered on the card, the 
books brought back ticked off, and the method is 
found to be as successful as it certainly is simple. 
The longer lists of large and country subscribers are 
still, however, entered in the ledgers. Proceeding 
upstairs to the first floor, we find books, still current, 
but not quite so incessantly called for. On the first 
floor, too, we have the private offices for clerks, and 
the foreign department. Mudie's collection of Ger- 
man works is the best of any of the London circulating 
libraries, and the German books are said to be much 
more earnestly read than the French, occasional and 
popular novels, of course, excepted. On the higher 
floors the standard catalogued works- are stowed, their 
popularity diminishing as the altitude of their resting 
place increases. As soon as a book is published in a 
shilling or other cheap edition, it ceases to be much 
demanded here. For instance, Lord Lytton's novels 
are in very little request. On the contrary, we were 
told that no sets of books are so rapidly " worn out " 
as the works of Charles Dickens* 

The stock of books is so incessantly varying 
through the sale of old and the purchase of new 

27 2 


volumes, that we were told that it was impossible to 
give anything like an estimate of the numbers. Some 
idea of the magnitude of the library may, however, be 
gathered from the following : 

Of the last two volumes of Macaulay's " History of 
England," 2400 copies were taken, and the public 
demand for them was so extraordinary that a whole 
shop, now the large room on the left as one enters, 
was devoted to their stowage and exchange. There 
were taken, of Dr. Livingstone's first African Travels, 
2000 copies ; and of Mr. Tennyson's "Enoch Arden," 
2500 (the largest number required of any poetical 
work); of Mr. Disraeli's "Lothair" 1500 copies were 
at first subscribed, but it was soon found necessary to 
increase the number to 3000. The demand was, 
however, as brief as it was eager, and the monumental 
pile of " remainders " in Mr. Mudie's cellar is the 
largest that has ever been erected there to the hydra 
of ephemeral admiration. About 600 copies of each 
of the two great reviews the Edinburgh and Quarterly 
are required as a first instalment ; but should any 
article prove more than usually attractive to the 
public, a large addition is made this was notably 
the case with that number of the Quarterly containing 
the famous article on the "Talmud;" 100 copies of 
the Revue des Deux, Mondes are required fortnightly 
to satisfy foreign students ; and we believe that, of all 
novels which are likely to prove ordinarily popular, 
.as many as 400 are at once ordered. The onus of 
selecting the books rests entirely in Mr. Mudie's own 
hands, and it has often been objected that his de- 
cisions are somewhat arbitrary ; for instance Mr. 
Swinburne is tabooed, while M. Paul de Koch is made 
free of the establishment that, in short, the subscri- 


bers should be considered as responsible judges of what 
books they do, and do not, desire to read. However, 
as it is, Mr. Mudie's principles of selection are broad 
enough to satisfy very various classes of readers. Of 
course the largest class of all are the novel-devourers, 
and it is said that, as the coarser novels of the day 
are almost exclusively written by women, so it is by 
women that they are chiefly patronised. The large 
field opened to female labour in the manufacture of 
library fiction is worth a moment's consideration, for 
the road has been cleared towards it, not by platform 
gatherings of stentorian amazons, but simply by the 
ordinary laws of supply and demand. 

On analysing Mudie's clearance catalogue for 
August, 1871 (and this catalogue is one of the best 
guides to the popular novel literature of the last few 
years), we find that there are 441 works of fiction 
written by authors under their own names, or by 
authors whose pseudonymes are perfectly well known. 
Of these 441 distinct works, 212 are written by men, 
and 229 by women ; so that, by what seems to us a 
not unfair test, actually more than half the novels of 
the day are written by female authors. To another 
large class of readers (the good people who go to Mr. 
and Mrs. German Reed's entertainments, and not to 
the theatre), the ordinary novels are caviare ; and 
they require their fiction seasoned, not by sensation, 
but by religious precept. Scientific books, once 
asked for only by students, are vastly increasing in 
popularity ; and the " fairy tales of science," as 
narrated by a Huxley or a Darwin, are beginning 
to be as eagerly demanded as the latest productions 
of Miss Braddon or Mr. Wilkie Collins. 

In the basement cellars, extending under the whole 


building, the " remainders " are stowed in huge bales, 
ready for sale or export. These are principally pur- 
chased by the country circulating libraries, and by 
shippers to the colonies and British possessions ; and 
thus the name of Mudie and the well-known yellow 
label, familiar in every English household is carried 
wherever the English tongue is spoken. 

About eighty assistants are employed in the central 
house alone, without reckoning those engaged in the 
city and the country branches. The system of leaving 
books at the subscribers' own homes, recently intro- 
duced, is becoming more and more popular: five vans 
go out daily on their respective rounds, and 8000 calls 
are generally made in the course of the week. 

Mr. Mudie's services as a public benefactor in the 
cause of extended education, were some years since 
publicly recognized by the ratepayers of Westminster, 
in his election to the London School Board ; and it is 
to be hoped that his knowledge of the practical use of 
the boon conferred upon the higher classes by the in- 
creased facilities of book-hiring, may lead him to urge 
upon his colleagues the advisability of establishing 
free circulating libraries for the use of those whose 
educational guardians they have recently become. 
The gift of tools is of very little moment to any one, 
if there is to be no occasion for their use; and in many 
instances it will be an absolute cruelty to teach children 
to read, and then to hurl them back on the atrocious 
literature of slum shops. At present, the fact that 
London is still without any pretence to a free circu- 
lating library, or indeed to an absolutely free library 
of any kind, is doubly disgraceful to our pachyderma- 
tous local authorities, because several provincial towns 
have shamed us by a good example. When the 


schoolmaster first began to bestir himself abroad in 
England, a taste for reading was encouraged, which 
soon spread in every direction, and by degrees a loud 
demand, satisfied at present only in a very limited 
degree, began to make itself heard for the establish' 
ment of free libraries. 

In 1845, Mr. William Ewart succeeded in passing a 
bill through the House to encourage the establishment 
of museums, and, legally intended, to include also 
libraries. By this act the local authorities, in towns 
with a population exceeding 10,000, possessed the 
power of levying a halfpenny rate for this purpose ; 
and the sum so raised was to be spent in providing 
buildings, and in paying the expenses of conservation, 
not of accumulation. At this time, an official inquiry 
shows us that Manchester, with a population of 
360,000 persons, was the only town in the kingdom 
which possessed a perfectly free library this was the 
Chetham Endowed Library (said to be the oldest irj 
Europe), which consisted of only 19,000 volumes. 
A further act was passed in 1850, distinctly referring 
to libraries, under the title of the "Public Library and 
Museum Act," by the provisions of which a majority 
of the ratepayers, at any properly summoned meeting, 
can levy a halfpenny in the pound for the establish- 
ment of free libraries. 

In 1852, chiefly owing to the exertions of the late 
Sir John Potter, the Manchester Free Library was 
opened, and is supported by the ratepayers. Since 
that time, four additional free lending libraries, with 
newspaper-rooms attached, have been affiliated to it. 
In 1869 the main library contained upwards of 84,000 
volumes. A guarantee from any householder is all that 
is required by those wishing to partake of the benefits 
of the Manchester libraries, 


The Liverpool Library, the best used of all these 
institutions, was founded chiefly through the munifi- 
cence of Mr. William Brown, who, at its opening in 
1860, was created a baronet. It consists of a reference 
and two lending libraries, and in 1867, though there 
were only 45,668 volumes in the reference library, the 
daily issue of books actually averaged 2041. 

At Bebbington, a suburb of Liverpool, or, more 
justly, of Birkenhead, a very excellent free circulating 
library has been established by Mr. Meyer, the emi- 
nent goldsmith and antiquarian, and its advantages 
are duly appreciated by the residents for miles around, 

At Birmingham there are five different libraries 
and reading-rooms, containing, in all, 52,269 volumes. 
In 1869, 300,031 volumes were borrowed by 9688 
persons, of- whom no fewer than 5607 were under 
twenty years of age. 

The " lending library " at all these towns appears 
to be of a more popular character than the "reference 
library," though both are essential. 

After this short survey, it does indeed seem dis- 
graceful to the London authorities that now, when 
the State is absolutely preparing its weapons to battle 
with Ignorance, when Education is to be made pos- 
sible to all, patent to all, Mr. Mudie should be allowed, 
unrivalled, to supply so admirably the literary wants 
of the wealthy, and that the poor should be refused 
the cheapest and most remunerative of all boons a 
free opportunity of gaining knowledge. 



\\T H. SMITH, the originator of the enormous 
* traffic in the sale and loan of books, and in 
the sale of newspapers and periodicals, in connection 
with our extended railway system, was born on the 
7th of July, 1792. As he was, from early years, in- 
tended for entirely different pursuits from that which 
he eventually followed, he cannot be said to have 
received a special business training. While still a 
boy, family circumstances rendered it desirable that 
he should take the control of a small newspaper 
establishment at the West End of London, and though 
his inclinations were decidedly opposed to a petty 
trade of this nature, he made duty paramount to 
likings or dislikings, and gave all his attention to his 
business. In a short time he was able to move to a 
larger shop in the Strand, and here he added the sale 
of stationery to the newspaper traffic. At that time 
the mails were conveyed from London by coaches 
leaving at night only, so that the morning papers 
could not be received in Liverpool or Manchester 
until forty-eight hours after publication. Smith now 

434 W- ff- SMITH AND SON. 

conceived the idea of forwarding the newspapers by 
express parcels by the coaches leaving London in the 
morning, and as these coaches generally left before 
the delivery of the morning papers, he kept a relay of 
swift, long-legged horses, which started as soon as the 
papers came to hand, and caught up the coaches 
where they could. By this means he actually secured 
the delivery of the news in the large Northern towns 
four-and-twenty hours in advance of the mail. For some 
years the returns from this business were altogether in- 
adequate to the cost and trouble incurred, and many men 
would have abandoned so desperate an enterprise, but 
Smith had faith in the scheme, and his perseverance 
was rewarded by the largest newspaper business in 
Europe. His attention was almost entirely given to 
the newspaper branch of his trade, and after a time 
everything else gave way to it. 

When railways first began to supersede coaches, 
Smith at once availed himself of the new facilities thus 
afforded in the transit of his newspapers, Up to 1848 
no systematic arrangements had been made to supply 
passengers at the stations with either papers or books. 
The privilege of satisfying public requirements had 
not been regarded as possessing any value, and the 
only idea those who had the right of selling books 
there put into actual execution was to avoid all risk 
whatsoever in providing for their possible customers. 
The result was, of course, very far from satisfactory, 
and it occurred to Smith, in 1848, to tender for the 
exclusive right of vending books and papers on the 
Birmingham Railway. The general satisfaction which 
this innovation afforded, induced the Directors of 
other companies to open the way to similar arrange- 
ments, and thus the newspaper trade of W. H. Smith 


and Son (for he had by this time taken his son into 
partnership), was established at almost every station 
of importance in the kingdom ; but the original cost 
of organization was enormous, and two or three years 
elapsed before any actual profit was realised. 

Soon, of course, at the railway stalls, books as well 
as papers were vended, and the special requirements 
of passengers called into being several cheap series of 
light works of fiction, calculated to while away the 
tedium of a railway journey. By degrees, too, a 
circulating library was formed and extended, and, as 
Smith and Son possessed unparalleled advantages in 
the way of cheap transit of goods, and in their 
already-established branches, extending throughout 
the kingdom wherever the iron horse had previously 
cleared the way, they were able to supplement 
Mudie's Library most efficiently. 

In 1852 W. H. Smith, senior, first felt the symptoms 
of a diseased heart, and in 1854 he retired from busi- 
ness altogether, spending the remainder of his days at 
his country residence at Bournemouth, and here he 
died on the 28th of July, 1855. 

Upon Mr. W. H. Smith, son of the founder, the 
business now devolved, and, while extending its rami- 
fications in all directions, he found time and oppor- 
tunity to embrace a career of more general utility. 
Elected by the householders of Westminster as a 
member of the House of Commons, to the exclusion 
of Mr. J. S. Mill, he has won the good opinions of all 
parties by the active part he has always taken in 
Metropolitan matters, and by the staunchness with 
which he has defended the privileges of London 
citizens. The confidence of the public was again 
expressed in his favour when he was chosen a member 


of the School Board for London. It is understood 
that of late years a great part of the management of 
the business establishment has devolved upon Mr. 
Lethbridge, the junior member of the firm. 

As we have already, in our chapter on Mr. Mudie, 
devoted ourselves especially to the circulating library, 
we will endeavour here to give only a short account 
of the newspaper business of W. H. Smith and Son. 

If we walk down the Strand at four o'clock in the 
morning, we find the whole street deserted and dull 
until we reach a row of red carts, bearing the name 
of the firm. When, however, we enter the establish- 
ment by which they are waiting, all is business and 
bustle. The interior of the large building is, in shape, 
not unlike a bee-hive ; the ground-floor forms, as it 
were, the pit, and the two galleries the boxes, of a 
theatre. In these galleries nearly two hundred men 
and boys are already busy folding papers. 

At five o'clock the " dailies" begin to arrive, and the 
advent of the Times is hailed with a consternation of 
enthusiasm. The huge bundles are fiercely attacked, 
and folded off in a shorter time than one could 
imagine possible ; and then the Telegraph, Daily 
News, and Standard are assaulted. As soon as the 
folding has been partially completed, a portion of the 
assistants are told off to make the proper assortment 
for each country place, and each packer has now a 
boy to wait upon him, who shouts out his individual 

At the door the carts are waiting ready to drive off 
with the parcels to the different railway termini, and 
by about a quarter to six all the first trains out of 
London are supplied, and in less than two hours the 
whole kingdom has been fed with morning news- 


papers, including between 20,000 and 30,000 copies 
of the Times. 

This scene occurs every week-day morning, but on 
Friday afternoon, on the arrival of the weekly papers, 
the bustle of business is even greater, and the parcels 
(those for the post only) are removed by fourteen 
vans sent from the General Post Office. 

In connection with the " Railway Libraries," it may 
be interesting to learn something of the publisher who 
has identified them with his business. Mr. George 
Routledge is a native of Cumberland a county, 
perhaps, as much as any other, famous for the com- 
mercial success of its natives who, after serving his 
apprenticeship at Carlisle, came up to London, and 
obtained employment in the house of Baldwin and 
Craddock. Soon, however, he opened a little shop of 
his own in Ryder's Court, Leicester Square, for the 
sale of cheap and second-hand books. Here, how- 
ever, at first he had much spare time on his hands, 
and he managed to procure a subordinate position in 
the Tithe Office. The work was not heavy, and the 
extra salary enabled him to increase his legitimate 
business. During the holiday time granted him by 
the Office, he made two or three journeys of explora- 
tion into the country, and found that a wide field 
existed there for a venturous and indomitable book- 
seller. Accordingly, he set to work to buy remainders, 
and having by degrees established agencies in the 
country, the young and almost unknown bookseller of 
Ryder's Court was able to compete in the auction- 
rooms, and generally with success, against Mr. Bohn 
and other influential members of the trade much to 
their astonishment, and not a little to their consternation. 
It was now time to give up the aid of the Tithe Office, 


and in 1845 Mr. Routledge moved to larger premises 
in Soho Square, and in 1848 Mr. William Warne, his 
brother-in-law, and for long his assistant, was admitted 
into partnership, being joined by Mr. F. Warne, three 
years later, when the firm moved again to Farringdon 

While at Soho Square, the publications of Messrs. 
Routledge and Warne had consisted chiefly of reprints, 
and here the remainder trade had been vastly ex- 
tended, but now they began to enter into direct 
dealings with noted authors on a scale that fully 
equalled the transactions of the first publishing 
firms. Perhaps the boldest of their early ventures 
was the offer of 20,000 to Sir E. Bulwer Lytton for 
the right of issuing a cheap series of his works for the 
term often years, from 1853 1863. In spite of the 
enormous outlay they were very willing, on the expiry 
of the time, to take a fresh lease of the popular 
volumes ; so that an offer originally deemed by the 
trade to be Quixotic, if not ruinous, must have reaped 
the success that its liberality and boldness deserved ; 
and by their association with Sir E. Bulwer Lytton, a 
great prestige was at once acquired. Similar arrange- 
ments were made with other distinguished novelists, 
nearly all of whom we have met before in our pre- 
vious article on Colburn Mr. G. P. R. James, Mr. 
Disraeli, Mr. Harrison Ainsworth, and Mr. Howard 
Russell ; while these successful re-issues were quickly 
followed by the publication of original works by 
Mayne Reed, Grant, and others, and by the first 
English edition of many of Prescott's and Long- 
fellow's productions. 

The various popular series known as the " Railway 
Library," the " Popular Library," &c., comprising 


many hundred volumes of standard works, afforded 
the chief business at Smith's bookstalls, and were, 
through Mr. Routledge's complete network of agents 
and connections, scattered broadcast over the country. 
Among the first books they brought out at a shilling 
were the works of Fenimore Cooper, Captain 
Marryat, Washington Irving, and Mrs. Stowe. Of 
" Uncle Tom's Cabin" half-a-million copies are said 
to have been sold. Of Russell's " Narrative of the 
Crimean War," 20,000; of Soyer's " Shilling Cookery," 
250,000 ; and of " Rarey on Horse Training," 150,000 
copies were disposed of in a very few weeks. As 
an example of the energy and enterprise of the firm, 
it is stated that when the copy of " Queechy" was 
received upon one Monday morning, it was at once 
placed in the printer's hands ; on Thursday the sheets 
were at the binder's, and on the Monday following 
20,000 copies had been disposed of to the trade. 

Besides these cheap works, Mr. Routledge has issued 
a multitude of more expensive volumes, illustrated by 
the best artists, and "got up" in the most luxurious 
styles. Among these it will be enough here to mention 
his numerous Shakespeares, Wood's " Natural His- 
tory " and Wood's " Natural History of Man," and 
Routledge's " English Poets." How extensive the 
Fine Art business of the firm must have been may be 
gathered from the fact that before 1855 they had 
paid one engraving house the Messrs. Dalziel 
Brothers upwards of ^50,000. 

In 1854, Mr. Routledge established a branch house 
at New York, and in 1865, Mr. F. Warne his brother 
had previously died on the termination of the part- 
nership, established a fresh business in Bedford Street, 
Covent Garden. With his two sons Mr. Robert and 


Mr. Edmund Routledge the founder now carries on 
the business at Broadway, Ludgate Hill, having 
removed thither when the railway improvements took 
place in Farringdon Street. 

NOTE. For these statistics and much of our sketch we are indebted 
to a writer in the Bookseller, who " obtained the information from trust- 
worthy sources. " 


York : Gent and Burdekin, 

Newcastle : Goading, Bryson, Bewick, and Charnley. 

Glasgow : Fowlis and Collins. 

Liverpool: Johnson. 

Dublin: Duffy. 

Derby : Mozky, Richardson, and Bemrose. 

Manchester : Harrop, Barker, Timperley, and the 

Birmingham : Button, Baskerville, and " The Educa- 
tional Trading Co'.' 

Exeter: Brice. 

Bristol: Cottle. 

T N this short chapter on provincial bookselling, we 
shall be necessarily obliged to confine our notice 
to those representatives of the trade in the larger 
country towns who were characteristically as well as 
bibliopolically famous who, with their native talent, 
determination, and endurance, would have succeeded 
in any walk of life, had they not, fortunately for the 
interest of our history, embraced the profession of 

In old days, York was the natural capital of the 



North of England ; a position acquired, of course, in 
times of ecclesiastical supremacy, but still retained for 
centuries after the Reformation. When the cost and 
difficulty of transit were great, the country folk looked 
to their own capital cities to supply them with literary 
food, and the annals of bookselling at York go back to 
nearly as ancient a date as those of London ; and, in- 
deed, Thomas Gent, whom we select as our represen- 
tative of the York booksellers, might have figured in 
the earlier portion of our introductory chapter, had he 
not been reserved for a more fitting place here. 

Thomas Gent, though of a Staffordshire family, was 
born in Dublin, and was apprenticed by his parents, 
poor though industrious people, to a printer in that 
city. In 1710, after three years' brutal treatment 
from his employers, he ran away to London, where, 
as he was not a freeman of the city, he lived upon 
what he calls "smouting work" for four years, and 
then accepted a situation with Mr. White of York, 
who, as a reward for printing the Prince of Orange's 
declaration when all the London printers were afraid, 
had been created King's printer for York and five 
other counties. White must have enjoyed plenty of 
business, there being few printers out of London at 
that time " None," says Gent, " I am sure at Chester, 
Liverpool, Whitehaven, Preston, Manchester, Kendal, 
and Leeds." When Gent, terminating his long walk 
from London, arrived at York, the door was opened 
by " Mistress White's head maiden, who is now my 
dear spouse," but he had to wait nearly as long a 
time as Jacob served for Rachel before he could 
claim " my dearest." 

Gent was as happy in York as he could well be, 
was earning money and respected by all, when his 


parents bade him come back to Dublin, and what 
made his departure grievous ? " I scarce knew, how- 
ever, through respect of Mrs. Alice Guy . . . Indeed 
I was not very forward in love or desire of matrimony 
till I knew the world better, and consequently should 
be more able to provide such a handsome mainte- 
nance as I confess I had ambition enough to desire. 
. . . However, I told her (because my irresolution 
should not anticipate her advancement) that I should 
respect her as one of the dearest of friends ; and re- 
ceiving a little dog from her, as a companion on the 
road, I had the honour to be accompanied as far as 
Bramham Moor by my rival" (his master's grandson). 

At Dublin he was soon threatened with seizure for 
having broken his apprenticeship, and though his 
friends offered to buy his freedom, he had received a 
letter from his dearest at York, saying he was ex- 
pected there, and he could not resist the opportunity 
of meeting her again. His friends were much con- 
cerned at parting with him so soon, " but my unlucky 
whelp that had torn my new hat to pieces seemed no 
wise affected by my taking boat ; so I let the rascal 
stay with my dear parents, who were fond of him for 
my sake, as he was of them for his own." 

After a stay of a few months at York, he came to 
London, resolved to scrape and save money enough 
to warrant him offering a home to "Mrs. Alice Guy," 
and in 1817 he became free of the City of London, 
and set to work in grim earnest, " many times from 
five in the morning till twelve at night, and frequently 
without food from breakfast till five or six in the 
evening, through hurry with hawkers ;" for at times he 
was in a ballad-house, now toiling at case, now 
writing "last words and confessions," now reporting 



sermons " for a crown piece and a pair of breeches " 
(profitable penny-a-lining that!) again printing 
treasonable papers, for which he was seized by the 
authorities ; and pirating and abridging " Robinson 
Crusoe," the first part of which appeared in 1/17, for 
which greater crime he went scot free. Occasionally 
he went home, but scarcely found it worth his while 
to stay in Dublin, and his parents' "melting tears 
caused mine to flow, and bedewed my pillow every 
night after that I lodged with them. ' What, Tommy,' 
my mother would sometimes say, ' this English dam- 
sel of yours, I suppose, is the chiefest reason why you 
slight us and your native country ! Well,' added she, 
' the ways of Providence are unsearchable.' " 

Gent, however, "provident overmuch," made the 
heart of his English damsel sick with hope deferred 
and " yet" he writes, " I could not well help it. I 
had a little money, it is very true, but no certain 
home wherein to invite her. I knew she was well 
fixed ; and it pierced me to the very heart to think 
if through any miscarriage or misfortune I should 
alter her condition for the worse instead of the better. 
Upon this account my letters to her at this time were 
not so amorously obliging as they ought to have been 
from a sincere lover ; by which she had reason, how- 
ever she might have been mistaken, to think that I 
had failed in my part of those tender engagements 
which had passed between us." 

After serving some time with Watts, Tonson's 
printing partner, and also with Henry Woodfall, 
founder of a long line of famous printers, he pur- 
chased a quantity of old type from Mist, the proprie- 
tor of the well-known journal, and just as he was 
conning over his matrimonial prospects, " one Sunday 


morning as my shoes were japanning by a little boy 
at the end of the lane, there came Mr. John Hoyle. 
' Mr. Gent/ said he, ' I have been at York to see my 
parents, and am but just as it were returned to Lon- 
don. I am heartily glad to see you, but sorry to tell 
you that you have lost your old sweetheart ; for I as- 
sure you that she is really married to your rival, Mr. 
Bourne.' I was so thunderstruck that I could scarcely 
return an answer." 

In this grief he betook himself to the Muse, 
and as he had formerly earned the title of the Bell- 
man's Poet, he indicted the " Forsaken Lover's 
Letter to his Former Sweetheart," to a tune " much in 
request, and proper for the flute ;" and not caring that 
his master should know of his great disappointment, 
he gave the copy to Mr. Dodd, " who, printing the 
same, sold thousands of them, for which he offered 
me a price ; but as it was on my own proper concern, 
I scorned to accept of anything except a glass of 
comfort or so." " Proper concerns" in the shape of 
heartaches, disappointments, and miseries, have been 
traded in to better purpose by less modest singers, but 
Gent's mental anguish seems sincere ; he " was then 
worn down to a shadow," and weary of his endless and 
now purposeless struggle. Work, however, a pallia- 
tive if not a cure, was again eagerly resorted to, and 
Gent found employment first with Mr. Samuel Rich- 
ardson, and afterwards, and more permanently, with 
Mrs. Dodd. Here he continued till on another 
" Sunday morning Mr. Philip Wood, a quondam part- 
ner of Mr. Midwinter's, entering my chambers 
'Tommy,' said he, 'all these fine material of yours 
must be moved to York,' at which, wondering, ' What 
mean you ?' said I. ' Ay,' said he,' ' and you must 


go to, without it's your own fault ; for your first 
sweetheart is now at liberty, and left in good circum- 
stances by her dear spouse, deceased but of late.' ' I 
pray heaven,' answered I, ' that his precious soul may 
be happy ; and for aught I know it may be as you 
say, for indeed I think I may not trifle with a widow, 
as I have formerly done with a maid.'" So he paid 
forthwith his coach fare down to York,. and found his 
dearest much altered, for he had not seen her these 
ten years. There was no need of new courtship, 
"but decency suspended the ceremony of. marriage 
for some time, till my dearest, considering the ill- 
consequence of delay in her business, as well as the 
former ties of love that passed innocently between us, 
by word and writing, gave full consent to have the 
nuptials celebrated." 

But, alas ! when he became a master instead of a ser- 
vant, and she a mistress instead of a maid, he found her 
"temper much altered from that sweet natural softness 
and most tender affection that rendered her so ami- 
able to me while I was more juvenile and she a widow. 
My dear's uncle, White, as he calls himself, who, as 
the only printer in Newcastle, had heaped up riches," 
was angry that he had not been chosen to manage 
his niece's shop, and actually came to York to found 
a rival establishment. Gent started a paper, and, 
though he persevered in its publication for many 
years, he was at length out-rivalled by White. In 
the publication of books he was much more success- 
ful. In 1726 he printed some books "learnedly 
translated into English by John Clarke, a school- 
master in Hull," as well as two editions of Erasmus. 
But the works by which he acquired most money and 
reputation were written as well as published by him- 


self "The Famous History of the City of York," 
" History of the Loyal Town of Ripon," and the 
" History of the Royal and Beautiful Town of Kings- 
town-upon-Hill." At this time his business is thus 
described by a card still existing : " Within his well- 
contrivecf office aforesaid printing is performed in a 
curious and judicious manner, having sets of fine 
characters for the Greek, Latin, English, Mathematics, 
&c. He sells the histories of Rome, France, England, 
particularly of this ancient City, Aynsty, and. exten- 
sive County, in five volumes ; likewise a book of the 
holy life of St. Winnifred, and her wonderful Cambrian 
fountain. He has stimulated an ingenious founder to 
cast such musical types, for the common press, as 
never yet were exhibited ; and has prepared a new 
edition of his York History against the time when the 
few remaining copies of that first and large impression 
are disposed off." He died, however, at York in 
1778, in his eighty-seventh year, in somewhat reduced 
circumstances, solely, he alleges, through the animosity 
of his uncle White. The manuscript of his interesting 
autobiography was discovered casually in Ireland, and 
was published only in 1832. From its quaintness and 
simplicity, above all from its minuteness of detail, it is 
evident enough where the abridger of " Robinson 
Crusoe " borrowed his manner and style ; and the 
reader will probably not quarrel with us for having 
given as much of the narrative as possible in the 
author's own words. 

Chief among the more recent York booksellers was 
Richard Burdekin, who died only twelve years since. 
In his younger days he was a traveller to the local firm 
of Wilson & Sons, who at the beginning of the century 
were well known as publishers of the works of Lindley 


Murray, which are said at that time to have achieved 
an annual sale of 100,000 copies. What Burdekin's 
efforts in his masters' service were, we can gather from 
the fact that he rode his favourite horse 30,000 miles 
in search of orders, which in a short time doubled the 
receipts of his employers. Soon he joined Spence in 
an old-established business, and eventually became 
senior partner of the firm. His trade extended to forty 
miles round York, and for fifty-five years he continued 
to sell, and in a lesser degree to publish, such books as 
might suit the inhabitants of the three ridings. 

We have seen that Gent describes his dear's uncle 
White as having heaped up riches as the only New- 
castle printer. He could, however, scarcely have been 
the only printer there, for we find that even when 
Charles I. made Newcastle his headquarters he 
brought with him Robert Barker, who had, as we have 
elsewhere noticed, enjoyed certain patents under the 
two preceding monarchs. If there were no previous 
printers at Newcastle in Barker's time, one, at least, 
must have started very shortly afterwards, for in 1656 
we find the death of " James Chantler, bookseller," 
recorded, and in those times the booksellers were 
mainly supplied from local sources. 

From Chantler's time we find that books and 
stationery were the staple commodities of Tyne 
Bridge, and for nearly a couple of centuries the 
" brigg " has been a favourite resort of the trade. We . 
find the names of Randell, Maplisden, Linn, and 
Akenhead occurring in the list of the Newcastle 
Stationers' Company ; and at the close of 1746 John 
Goading printed the first number of the Newcastle 
General Magazine. " For too long," said the preface, 
" had the northern climes been deprived of a repository 


of learning ; too long had those geniuses that now 
began to shine been consealed in darkness for want of 
a proper channel to convey their productions into 
light ;" but in 1760 the northern geniuses were again 
" consealed in darkness," for the magazine came to an 
end. Four years later, however, Thomas Slack 
founded the Newcastle Chronicle, which has gone on 
continuously to the present day, being now one of the 
very best daily papers out of London. To its columns 
we are indebted for much of the preceding. 

Goading had continued his general publishing busi- 
ness with some energy, and in 1751 he issued Blener- 
hasset's " History of England " from the landing of 
the Phoenicians to the death of George I. and in his 
list of subscribers we find no less than eight Newcastle 
booksellers, one of whom was Martin Bryson, the friend 
and correspondent of Allan Ramsay, the Scotch poet 
and Edinburgh bookseller, who addressed a letter to 
him in rhyme 

" To Martin Bryson, on Tyne Brigg, 
An upright, downright, honest Whig. " 

Bryson's name occurs on a title-page as early as 1722. 
His house and stock were destroyed by the great New- 
castle fire of 1750, and after this occurrence he took, 
William Charnley, the son of a Penrith haberdasher 
and one of his many apprentices, into partnership. 

To diverge for a moment from this pedigree of 
bibliopoles, we come to by far the greatest name con- 
nected in any way with the production of books at 
Newcastle that, of course, of Thomas Bewick ; and 
though his life belongs more properly to the history of 
engraving, for many years the books that were illus- 
trated by his pencil gave the northern town such a 


world-wide reputation that we feel justified in devoting 
a page or two to his memory. 

Thomas Bewick was born at Cherryburn, twelve 
miles to the west of Newcastle, in 1753, receiving a 
limited, but as far as it went a thorough education ; 
his genius displayed itself in early childish days by 
such chalk drawings on barn-walls and stable-doors 
as have almost invariably discovered the bent of 
youthful artistic genius. At the age of fifteen he was 
apprenticed to Mr. Beilby, of Newcastle, an engraver 
in copper-plate, and though Beilby's business lay 
rather in the production of brass door-plates, and the 
emblazoning of spoons and watches, than in Fine 
Art illustrations, the master soon appreciated and 
encouraged his pupil's wonderful talents. During the 
period of his apprenticeship, young Bewick paid only 
nincpence a week for his lodging, and brought back a 
coarse brown loaf in every weekly visit to his home 
at Cherryburn. As soon as his term of seven years 
had expired, he still continued in Beilby's service, 
but devoted himself henceforth to wood-engraving. 
Shortly afterwards he received a premium from the 
Society of Arts for a woodcut of the " Huntsman and 
the Old Hound," and this induced him in the follow- 
ing year to go to London in quest of labour and 
fortune, but he found the metropolis so little to his 
liking that he writes home : " I would rather be 
herding sheep on Mickley Bank-top than remain in 
London, although for doing so I was to be made the 
premier of England." With his distaste for town life 
and his strong love for the country for its scenery 
changing with every season, for its living forms of 
animal and plant life, for all, in short, that incessantly 
appealed to a wonderful artistic instinct, Bewick was 


easily persuaded by his old master, Beilby, to return 
to Newcastle, and enter into partnership with him 
his brother John becoming their joint apprentice. 
The publication of the illustrations to " Gay's Fables," 
and the "Select Fables," by the brothers, spread 
their reputation far and wide, and placed them far 
above competition in the art. In 1785, Thomas 
Bewick began the cuts for his " History of Quadru- 
peds," though the work was not completed and pub- 
lished until 1790. The "text," or literary matter, 
was contributed by his partner, Beilby, but it was of 
course on account of the illustrations that three large 
editions were called for within three years. In this 
successful venture, the two partners were associated 
with a printer of the name of Hodgson, and unfortun- 
ately, after his death, the arrangement was made the 
grounds of dispute by his widow, and Bewick was 
compelled to remove the printing of the work to 
another establishment. In 1797 appeared the first 
volume of the " History of British Birds," and almost 
immediately afterwards, Beilby retired from the 
partnership, leaving Bewick to produce and compile 
the work alone. The tail-pieces in the first edition 
of the Birds are considered Bewick's chefs d'ceuvres 
as Professor Wilson says, " There is a moral in every 
tail-piece a sermon in every vignette. . . . His 
books lie on our parlour, bed-room, dining-room, 
drawing-room and study tables, and are never out of 
place or time. Happy old man ! The delight of 
childhood, manhood, decaying age !" After founding 
a famous school for wood-engravers at Newcastle 
William Harvey was among his pupils Bewick died 
in 1828, leaving the business to his son, Mr. R. E. 


Charnley left Bryson in 1755, and started a circu- 
lating library of 2000 volumes, the subscription being 
twelve shillings a year, and though this method of 
disseminating books had only been practised in 
London within the previous twenty years, we find 
that one Barba, who dabbled likewise in prints and 
tea, had already been for some years in the field. 
When Bryson died, Charnley succeeded to his business 
on the bridge, and after having been washed out by 
an overflow of the river, he removed to safer premises 
in the Great Market in 1777. Charnley died in 1803. 
An anecdote connected with him is still gleefully told 
by the Newcastle pitmen, and is worth repeating. 
He was deaf and obliged to use an ear-trumpet; and 
on being accosted by a collier, he clapped, as usual, 
his instrument to his ear, in order to catch the words. 
" Nay, man," cried the pitman, not to be imposed 
upon ; " thou's not gaun to mak me believe thou can 
play that trumpet wi' thy lug !" 

Emerson Charnley succeeded his father, and was 
styled by Dibdin " the veteran emperor of North- 
umbrian booksellers;" till 1860 this old established 
business remained in the family, when it became the 
property of Mr. William Dodd, for many years its 

We have already referred so often to the Scotch 
publishers, that we can only find room for Glasgow 
as representing the Scotch provincial trade. Printing 
was introduced there in the year 1630 by George 
Anderson, who was succeeded in 1661 by Robert 
Saunders, and the whole printing business of the 
West of Scotland (except one newspaper) was carried 
on by Saunders and his son until 1730, when the art 
was further improved by R. Uric. Five years later it 


appears from Morrison's " Dictionary of Decisions of 
the Court of Sessions" that a new comer "was 
debarred from any concern in bookselling within the 
city of Glasgow, because the place was judged too 
narrow for two booksellers at a time." In the teeth 
of this arbitrary decision Robert Fowlis, who as a young 
barber had attracted the notice of some of the 
university professors, and had been encouraged to 
attend the lectures, opened a book-shop in 1739. In 
1743 he was appointed printer to the university, and 
in the following year he produced his celebrated im- 
maculate edition of " Horace," which was hung up on 
the college walls with a reward appended for every 
mistake discovered. In the course of thirty years 
they produced as many well printed classics as 
Bodoni of Parma, or Barbon of Paris, and their books, 
in exactness and beauty of type, almost rival the 
Aldine series. They endeavoured to devote the 
money which their success brought them in to the 
establishment of an academy for the cultivation of 
the Fine Arts, but this grand, and then novel, project 
produced their ruin, without in any way affecting the 
artistic taste of Scotland. After the death of his 
younger brother, Robert was compelled to send the 
collection of pictures to London for sale, and as he 
was in immediate want of money he insisted upon the 
auction taking place at a time when the picture 
market was glutted. The sale catalogue forms three 
volumes, and yet after all expenses were defrayed the 
balance in his favour amounted only to fifteen shillings. 
He died on his way back to Glasgow in 1776 

The bookselling and book-manufacturing trades 
have changed strangely in Glasgow, since the time 
when the city was judged 


booksellers. At present these branches of industry 
are only surpassed in Edinburgh, and one Glasgow 
establishment at least is without a parallel in London. 
Messrs. Collins, Son, and Co., actually give employ- 
ment to about seven hundred hands. The ground- 
floor of their immense building is devoted to the 
warehousing of paper, account-books, copy-books and 
general stationery. On the main floor of the estab- 
lishment one hundred binders are constantly at work, 
and on the floor above the folding and sewing of the 
sheets is executed by two hundred girls and women. 
In the rear stands the engine-house and printing 
office where sixteen platten and cylinder typographic 
machines are kept working at full steam, upon 
dictionaries, school-books, Bibles, prayer-books, de- 
votional, and other publications. Seven lithographic 
machines are constantly employed upon atlases and 
their celebrated copy-books, and it has been found 
that the finest lithographic work can be better 
executed by the machine than, as till very recently, 
at press. Everything is done on the premises, which 
extend from Stirling's Road to Heriot Hill, except 
making the paper and casting the type.* 

As further proof of the magnitude of the business, 
we may quote a recent statement of Mr. Henderson, 
one of the partners. In 1869 there were " issued from 
the letter-press section of the establishment, no fewer 
than 1,352,421 printed and bound works equal to 
about 4500 per day, or 450 passing through the hands 
of the workers every working hour." 

Little more than a hundred years ago the great 
seaport town of Liverpool was a little fishing village, 

* The above account is abridged from the Bookseller of November, 


and, consequently, the bookselling trade there is of a 
very recent growth. Among the first important 
members of the fraternity were Darton and Freer ; 
but perhaps the most famous Liverpool bibliopole of 
his day was Thomas Johnson. He started in Dale 
Street, in 1829, with a stock of books only large 
enough to fill the bottom shelves of his window ; and 
at the back of his shop, scarce hidden, he kept his 
bed and household utensils. However, he had the 
happy knack of making friends in all quarters ; and 
when at a large trade sale, offered on unusually 
advantageous terms, he had speedily 'emptied his 
meagre purse, and was looking wistfully at the bar- 
gains falling to all his neighbours, a Liverpool 
merchant bade him go on purchasing to the extent 
of 100 or 150, adding that he himself would take 
the risk. This timely aid set Johnson up in a com- 
paratively princely manner, and after he had been in 
business a few years his periodical catalogue extended 
to 300 pages. At this time the country booksellers 
were chiefly dependent for their stocks upon the sales 
of private libraries, but the Liverpool booksellers 
possessed another large means of supplying their 
wants. The Bible Society in Dublin was very busy 
in distributing new Bibles in all directions, which the 
good Catholics at once carried to the pawnshops. 
These were purchased again by Mr. Duffy, who 
brought them over to Liverpool in huge sacks, and 
exchanged them for books more agreeable to the 
Irish taste. 

By degrees Johnson combined publishing and 
auctioneering with the more legitimate business. His 
first venture in the former capacity was Abbot's 
collected works ; but by far his most successful were 


the Lectures on " Revivals," and on " Professing 
Christians," by Mr. Finney, of which he sold 150,000 
copies. As an auctioneer, he was a lesser, or Liver- 
pool edition, of Tegg, and his rooms under the 
Liver theatre were crowded nightly. On one occa- 
sion Johnson is said to have purchased the entire 
contents of Baldwin's Bible room, and he was well 
known to have been the largest consumer of Bibles 
out of London ; and when Arnold left the Bagsters, 
and commenced Bible printing on his own account, 
Johnson was his favourite customer. Arnold's puffing 
hand-bills vie with the choicest pill-mongering pro- 
ductions. After a violent tirade against Puseyism he 
continues thus, re his " Domestic Bible," and " Bible 
Commentary :" 

" He has provided you the seed ; He will help you 
to sow it, He will help you to reap it. Sow it then, 
sow freely sow largely sow bountifully sow per- 
severingly. It may be bought cheaply may be had 
in any quantity has never been known to fail in its 
effects. There are agents for its sale in every town in 
Great Britain, you may obtain it from any bookseller 
in penny and threepenny packages. Sow it, men of 
Britain sow it in schools in families in every 
town in every village in every hamlet of England, 
Wales, and Scotland. Sow it beyond the sea for it 
will grow on foreign shores. Send it to Ireland, to 
the Colonies, to India, to China, and sow it there. 
Send it to the continent and to Africa and sow it there." 
And so on ad nauseam. The seed, however, proved 
very unprofitable to Arnold ; and shortly after his 
failure Johnson was also obliged to give up business, 
having signed some unfortunate bills. He afterwards 
rejoined his father in Manchester. 


Another well-known Liverpool bookseller was 
" Dandy ' J Cruikshank, of Castle Street, who main- 
tained that he was the handsomest man in England, 
and whose vanity extended to his trade, for his 
specialities were books bound in pink and orange. 

At the present time there are about sixty booksellers 
in Liverpool ; and Mr. Edward Howell, an apprentice 
of Johnson's, possesses the largest stock, consisting 
of 100,000 volumes, and is known also as a religious 
publisher. Mr. Philip, another leading bookseller, 
has two establishments in Liverpool, and a branch 
house in London, while Mr. Cornish, of Holborn, has 
an establishment in Liverpool, as well as in Dublin. 

Crossing the Channel for a moment, we have an 
opportunity of saying something of the Dublin book- 
sellers ; but we shall not be detained long, as, in this 
branch of industry, the Irish capital presents a striking 
contrast to the Scottish. In the interval between the 
cessation of the licensing system and the Copyright 
Act of the 8th Anne, there was no legal protection 
for literary property, and book-pirates consequently 
abounded. One of the tribe has been celebrated by 
Dunton : " Mr. Lee, in Lombard Street such a 
pirate, such a cormorant never was before copies, 
books, men, ships, all was one ; he held no propriety, 
right or wrong, good or bad, till at last he began to 
be known ; and the booksellers, not enduring so ill a 
man among them, to disgrace them, spewed him out, 
and off he marched for Ireland, where he acted as 
felonious Lee (!) as he did in London." There, 
however, till the Act of Union, in 1801, book-pirates 
abounded, greatly to the discouragement of native 
talent, and even of native industry, for Gent tells us 
repeatedly that it was almost impossible for a journey- 



man printer to earn wherewithal! to exist on in the 
Dublin printing offices. In 1753 we find Samuel 
Richardson publishing a pamphlet " The History of 
Sir Charles Grandison before Publication by certain 
Booksellers in Dublin." It appears that sheets had 
been stolen from Richardson's warehouse, and that 
three Irish booksellers each produced cheap editions 
of nearly half the entire novel, before a single volume 
had appeared in England. There was no legal remedy; 
but "what," asks the Gray's Inn Journal indignantly, 
"what then should be said of Exshaw, Wilson, and Saun- 
ders, booksellers in Dublin, and perpetrators of this 
vile act of piracy ? They should be expelled from the 
Republic of Letters as literary Goths and Vandals, 
who are ready to invade the property of every man 
of genius." With the Act of Union, however, the 
Dublin booksellers were made amenable to Eng- 
lish law, and a dolorous cry arose that their trade 
was ruined, and that the " vested right " they had 
inherited, to prey upon the Saxon, had been abolished 
by the cruel conquerors. From this moment, of 
course, Irish bookselling was obliged to take a higher 
tone. In a few years the Dublin Review and the 
Dublin University Magazine vindicated the intellectual 
powers of the natives, and for a long time were 
widely circulated in Ireland, and were then mainly 
indebted to the enterprise of Irish authors and book- 
sellers. When the Commission of National Education 
was appointed in Ireland," Mr. Thorn was selected as 
a publisher, and, through their pecuniary aid, was 
enabled to bring out a series of " Irish National 
School Books," that for cheapness and excellence 
are probably still unrivalled. These led, as we have 
previously seen, to petitions from the English pub- 


Ushers, complaining of state interference with the 
ordinary and commercial laws of bookselling, and to 
trials for infringement of copyright. However, in the 
long-run the Irish Commissioners were successful, and 
Mr. Longman, one of the complainants, eventually 
accepted their English agency. Besides his connec- 
tion with the Commission, Mr. Thorn has acquired a 
reputation in the Bookselling world by his excellent 
" Irish Almanac," which, till recently, was unrivalled 
by the English almanacs of any London firms. 

Latterly, however, Irish bookselling, as far as 
individual enterprize goes, has been commonly asso- 
ciated with the name of James Duffy. He was born 
in 1809, and after being apprenticed to a draper in the 
country, found employment in Dublin, and here, like 
Robert Chambers, he invested his spare coppers in 
picking up old books. At last he found trade so bad 
that he determined to emigrate, and accordingly, as 
he possessed no funds, he took his books to an 
auctioneer ; at the sale, to his surprise, he found that 
the books he had purchased for pence, now produced 
as many shillings. Upon this he determined to drop 
the scheme of emigration, and to turn bookseller. As 
we have before mentioned, he collected the Bibles 
which the Catholics received from the Church of 
England propagandists only to turn into money, and 
took them over to Liverpool, where he exchanged 
them for books less unlawful in Papist eyes. At first 
he hawked these about the country, but eventually 
took a place of business in Anglesea Street, Dublin, 
and there began to publish the "Bruton Series" of 
thrilling tales of robbers, battles, adventures, and the 
like, at the low price of two-pence each. In 1842 he 
was appointed bookseller to the Repeal Agitators, 

29 2 


and produced, under their auspices, the " Library of 
Ireland," consisting of patriotic and national collec- 
tions of poems, &c., edited or written by some of the 
most brilliant of the National party. However, the 
movement for Repeal collapsed, and before this Duffy 
had discerningly turned his attention to less ephe- 
meral publications, and produced editions of Carleton, 
Banin, and other native celebrities. The famine of 
1846 affected every trade, and as the -people had no 
money to buy bread, the sale of books was, of course, 
utterly hopeless, and Duffy found that he could not 
meet his engagements. His creditors granted him 
time, and the money was to be paid in instalments. 
He sold his copyrights in England, and paid the first 
instalment promptly. But when the time was due for 
the second he saw no prospect of meeting it. A 
neighbour, however, called John Donnegan, hearing 
that he was ruined, carried him a stocking full 
of money, his lifetime's hoardings, threw it down 
before him, with "Just take that, and see if it is any 
use to you ! Pay me when you can," and refusing to 
take any receipt, rushed out again. The stocking con- 
tained nearly^ 1 200, and Duffy was able not only to pay 
his creditors, but to turn his attention to the publica- 
tion of more important works than he had hitherto 
attempted, such as the Douay Bible, Missals, Prayer- 
books, and many historical works, and it was not long 
before he was in a position to repay the kindly loan. 
About 1860 he opened a branch house in London, and 
at that period the success of his publishing career 
may be said to have culminated, for after the death 
of his wife he confined himself almost entirely to dis- 
posing of his old stock. He died on the 4th of July 
of the year 1871, regretted by his fellow-citizens in 


Dublin, and by his brother^bibliopoles throughout the 

If it were not for want of space there are several 
towns in the Midland Counties which deserve notice 
here on account of their bibliopolical fame none 
more so, perhaps, than Derby, which at present 
possesses no less than three large bookselling firms, 
which have also branch businesses in London, 
Messrs. Richardson and Son having in addition 
another establishment at Dublin. As Roman Catholic 
publishers some of their productions have^achieved an 
enormous circulation, notably " The Crown of Jesus," 
which, honoured with the approval of the Pope, and of 
all the English dignitaries of the Roman Catholic 
Church, long since attained an issue of 100,000 copies. 
The works of Frederick William Faber, D.D., late of 
the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, have also been among 
the most popular of Messrs. Richardson and Son's 
publications. The Mozleys, of Derby, have long been 
in the trade, and are represented both in the country 
and in London ; one of the family was well known in 
connection with the editorial staff of the Times news- 
paper. The Mozleys publish the Monthly Packet, 
edited by Miss Younge, and also the majority of that 
lady's separate works. A third^firm, Messrs. Bemrose 
and Sons, have gained a considerable reputation as 
archaeological publishers, and as the proprietors of Mrs. 
Warren's " Household Manuals." 

At Halifax, where the book trade is of a more 
recent date, Messrs. Milner and Sowerby, by their 

* To a timely notice in a recent number of the Bookseller we are 
nd ebted for the main facts in Duffy's life. 


services in the cause of cheap publications of really 
good and standard works, have done much to counter- 
act the effects of cheap and pernicious literature. 
"The Cottage Library" has long been known all over 
England, and was one of the first shilling series of 
really good books published certainly the first in a 
neat form and with a neat binding, issued at this low 
price, and is still, in its extent and scope, unrivalled. 

Manchester was one of the first provincial towns in Eng- 
land to which the printer and bookseller came, for it 
must be remembered that the trades were for centuries 
almost synonymous. The art of printing is said to have 
been introduced here in 1 588, when Penny went through 
the kingdom with an itinerant press, but his plant was 
seized and destroyed by the fifth Earl of Derby. 
However, the innovation was effected, and the new 
art was firmly lodged. Manchester, nevertheless, in 
these early days was a place of such importance that 
a mere catalogue of the members of the trade would 
more than fill the few pages at our command. 
Among the booksellers of the last century we can 
only mention Haslingden, who published "Tim 
Bobbin" a book still famous ; the Sowlers, one of 
the descendants of whom started the Courier, under 
the editorship of Alaric A. Watts, in 1825, and the 
journal still enjoys a wide popularity ; Joseph Harrop, 
who originated the Manchester Mercury in 1752, 
published the " History of Man" in sixpenny numbers, 
but Harrop's well-known folio Bible was issued by his 
son and successor; the firm of Clarke Brothers 
amassed a large fortune in school books and sta- 
tionery ; and about the same time Banks and Co. 
were also doing an immense trade upon a thoroughly 
reprehensible system. Hayward ; who was their 


managing partner, opened shops in various places, 
placed his own servants in possession, and made them 
accept bills to a very large amount. These bills were 
discounted at the Manchester Bank, and when the 
crash came the bank was a creditor upon the estate 
to the amount of 120,000, while the London pub- 
lishers were indebted to the extent of 100,000, 
Among the shopmen in charge under Hay ward's 
system was Timperley, a printer, and a man of con- 
siderable literary ability. To pay the debts con- 
tracted through this wholesale acceptance of bills, he 
consigned his stock to an auctioneer, who, after dis- 
posing of it by auction, ran off with the proceeds of 
the sale. Timperley, heart-broken by misfortune, 
accepted a literary engagement with Fisher and 
Jackson, of London, and in their service he died. In 
early days he had been a soldier, had gone through 
many campaigns, had served at Waterloo, and had 
well earned his pension of a shilling per diem. He is 
now known chiefly as the author of the " Manchester 
Historical Recorder," and of " Timperley 's Typo- 
graphical Dictionary" one of the most accurate, 
laborious, and voluminous compilations ever made, 
and one to be gratefully remembered by all students 
of the history of the printing press in this country. 
Another worthy of typographical fame was Bent, who, 
after doing a large bookselling business among the 
Manchester Unitarians, then, at all events, the most 
cultivated portion of the inhabitants, started " Bent's 
Literary Advertiser," the first bookseller's organ, and 
which latterly has been incorporated in the Bookseller. 
The Bookseller was started in 1857 by Mr. Whitaker, 
and among its earliest contributors were many men of 
some note, especially Alaric Watts. From the first it 


filled an acknowledged void, and, as a trade journal, 
has never been surpassed. From the interest of the 
notes and trade gossip contained in its pages, as well 
as from the more solid information in its lists of works 
and announcements, it has secured a wide popularity 
here and abroad, and has been the precursor of similar 
journals in America and elsewhere. 

Among other important Manchester publishers were 
B. & W. Dean, who introduced stereotyping into the 
cjty, and issued a large series of popular and useful 
books. From some cause or another, they failed, and 
their stereos came into the possession of Samuel 
Johnson, the father of the Liverpool bookseller. 
Johnson now became a publisher on a very extensive 
scale, and is said to have been the originator of the 
royal 32mo. literature, which is now chiefly identified 
with Halifax. 

In our own times, Manchester bookselling has been 
principally represented by the brothers Abel and John 
Hey wood a name almost as widely known as that of 
any London firm. The brothers were born at Prest- 
wich, of very humble parentage ; their father, indeed, 
is said at one time to have been in receipt of parish 
relief. Abel began life as a warehouse boy, on the 
scanty pittance of eighteenpence a week ; but at the 
age of twenty he was summarily dismissed by his 
master in a fit of passion. He now obtained the 
wholesale agency for the Poor Ma/is Gtiardian, and 
was very shortly afterwards fined 54 for selling it 
without a stamp. He could not pay the fine, and was 
sent to prison for four months ; but his family 
managed the shop during his incarceration, still sell- 
ing the Guardian as before, but in a quieter manner. 


In 1834 and in 1836 he was again fined, but now he 
could afford to pay. The Government next tried to 
seize the papers while in the hands of the carriers, and 
they were obliged consequently to be sent through the 
country carefully concealed embedded in a chest of 
tea or a hamper of shoes. As soon, however, as the 
duty was reduced from fourpence to a penny, the 
poorer classes were able to pay for stamped papers. 
Abel Hey wood was, nevertheless, again the subject 
of a legal prosecution for the publication of a penny 
pamphlet by Haslam. Acting with vigorous prompt- 
ness, he caused three or four copies of Shelley's 
works to be purchased from the chief Manchester 
booksellers, and then contended that the poems were 
more blasphemous than his pamphlet. The Govern- 
ment did not care to excite the ill-feelings of the read- 
ing public by sending booksellers of position to prison, 
and as the cases were precisely similar, they relin- 
quished the prosecution. Probably this decisive con- 
duct suggested the same course to Hetherington, who 
was afterwards the cause of that famous trial, the 
Queen v. Moxon. 

In 1838, Fergus O'Connor started the Northern 
Star, and for four years its prosperity at the time was 
unexampled. Hey wood sold 18,000 copies weekly. 
By degrees his periodical trade increased enormously. 
In 1847 he joined some paper-stainers, and the firm 
soon became one of the largest in the world. In the 
year 1860 the paper duty paid by them amounted to 
more than 20,000. Among the most successful of 
his recent publications have been " Abel Heywood's 
Penny Guide Books." The series now embraces 
upwards of seventy-five numbers, referring to every 
place of importance or Jnterest in the kingdom. He 


has also issued the whole of the popular tale, " The 
Gates Ajar," for the same price one penny giving 
in a pamphlet form what usually occupies a goodly 

Abel Heywood, however, was as well known as a 
distinguished public man as a successful bookseller. 
In 1835 he was appointed a Commissioner of Police, 
and during the Manchester riots in 1842 and 1849 ne 
took a conspicuous part in quelling the disturbances. 
Elected to the corporation, he became an alderman 
in 1853, and in 1859 ne was third in the list of candi- 
dates at the general Parliamentary elections. In 1862 
he was elected Mayor of Manchester ; in 1864 he took 
his son, Abel, into partnership. 

John Heywood commenced life in the same lowly 
circumstances as his brother, and at the age of four- 
teen found employment as a handloom weaver. 
Within ten years his wages rose from half-a-crown to 
thirty shillings a week ; and when in receipt of this 
latter sum he regularly allowed his mother a pound a 
week. At the age of four-and-twenty he married, and 
to improve his worldly position, accepted the manage- 
ment of a small factory at Altrincham, in Cheshire ; 
but as the speculation proved a failure, he returned to 
his former occupation of " dressing " for power-loom 
weavers, at which he remained until his thirty-fifth 
year. Desirous of rendering even his spare time pro- 
fitable, he had bought a paper-ruling machine, upon 
which he worked in the evenings ; and Abel, who was 
now a successful bookseller in Oldham Street, offered 
him a situation in his establishment as paper-ruler, 
with a salary of two pounds a week : and in his 
brother's employ he remained for seven years. In 
1842, however, determined to make a start for himself, 


he took a little shop in Deansgate, and, assisted by 
his son John, a lad of thirteen, the business, originally 
infinitesimal, increased rapidly and vastly. At first 
they confined their efforts almost entirely to the sale 
of weekly or Sunday papers, and they were able to 
carry abroad conveniently under their arms all the 
newspapers they could dispose of. In a few months, 
however, the aid of a wheelbarrow was required, and 
this, in turn, was discarded for a pony and trap. 
After adding every possible enlargement to the old 
premises, they were obliged in 1859 to ta ^ e a shop on 
the opposite side of the street ; and year after year, as 
the business expanded, addition after addition was 
made to the premises, until three buildings were rolled 
into one, and at the end of another seven years a huge 
six-storey manufactory was built in the rear of the 
triangular shop. The increase of the working staff 
kept pace with the growth of the establishment, and 
now, instead of the armful or the barrow-load, a 
special railway truck, with a freightage of about two 
tons, comes down from London five times a week ; 
some hundred and fifty assistants supply the place of 
the lad of thirteen, and nine spring-carts have been 
introduced in lieu of the little pony trap. A thousand 
parcels are made up each day, and between three and 
four hundred orders are received by every morning's 
post ; for, besides being the largest newsvendors and 
booksellers out of London,, the firm are the largest 
copybook makers in the kingdom. Fifteen hundred 
gross of copybooks are despatched from the ware- 
houses every month ; and it is stated that the weekly 
issue of newspapers, magazines, and other periodicals 
amounts to the almost incredible number of a quarter 
of a million. 


In 1864, John Hey wood, senior, died, and the busi- 
ness devolved upon his son, who had inherited all his 
father's energy and industry. In 1867 he introduced 
a platten printing machine, adapted to take impres- 
sions from the stereo-plates of his school-books- 
known as " John Heywood's Code," " John Heywood's 
Manchester Reader," &c. and before long he resolved 
to become a regular printer as well as a publisher, and 
the " Excelsior Printing Works " were erected about 
a mile from Deansgate, where 355 people are con- 
stantly employed in the manufacture of books, in a 
manner very similar to that previously described in 
our accounts of the Messrs. Nelson and Collins, of 
Scotland. Among the books published by Mr. John 
Heywood are dialectic works, many of which are 
regarded, justly, as Lancashire classics. One of his 
latest triumphs has been the issue of the " Science 
Lectures for the People," delivered at the Hulme 
Town Hall, and sold separately at a penny each a 
fact that says something as to the good taste of the 
factory lads. Four monthly and three weekly periodi- 
cals are published by Mr. John Heywood. Of the former 
the Raihvay Guide is the most widely circulated, while 
the Lithographer is indispensable to the many decora- 
tive artists of the neighbourhood ; and Ben Brierley's 
Journal, with its vernacular contributions, finds its 
way to every Lancashire fireside. Of the latter, the 
Sphinx, a satirical journal, is the most popular. 

The career of the twoHeywoodsis a strikingexample 
of the labour, energy, and success which Lancashire 
folk are apt to think the true attributes of the typical 
" Manchester man ;" and if they have not been instru- 
mental in adding much to the higher literature of the 
world, their publications have very widely extended 


the taste for knowledge among the lower orders in the 
north of England. 

Even in Birmingham the trade of bookselling was 
introduced at a comparatively recent date. Dr. 
Johnson tells us that his father used to open a book- 
stall here on market days ; and Boswell adds, in a 
note, that there was not then a single regular book- 
shop in the whole town. Elsewhere he tells us that 
" Mr Warren was the first established bookseller in 
Birmingham, and was very attentive to Johnson, who 
he soon found could be of much service to him in his 
trade by his knowledge of literature ; and he even 
obtained the assistance of his pen in furnishing some 
numbers of a periodical essay, printed in the news- 
paper of which Warren was proprietor." Mr Warren, 
however, though Johnson's first encourager, has long 
since been forgotten, and Birmingham bookselling is 
now universally identified with the name of William 
Hutton ; and from his autobiography, published in 
1816 perhaps the most interesting record of a self- 
made life that has ever been personally indited we 
give a short sketch of his career. 

William Hutton was born at Derby, in 1723. His 
father, a drunken wool-comber, scarcely brought home 
wherewithal to keep the wretched family from starva- 
tion, and " consultations were held (when the child 
was six years old) about fixing me in some employ- 
ment for the benefit of the family. Winding quills 
for the weaver was mentioned, but died away. Strip- 
ping tobacco for the grocer, by which I was to earn 
fourpence a week, was proposed, but it was at last 
concluded that I was too young for any employment." 
Next year, however, the result of the consultation was 


otherwise, and he was placed in a silk-mill ; the 
youngest, and by far the smallest, of the 300 persons 
employed, a lofty pair of pattens were tied on to his 
feet so that he might be able to reach the engine; and 
he continues : " I had now to rise at five every morn- 
ing, summer and winter, for seven years ; to submit 
to the cane whenever convenient to the master ; to be 
the constant companion of the most rude and vulgar 
of the human race ; never taught by nature, nor ever 
wishing to be taught." Brutally treated, so that the 
scars of his chastisements remained on his body 
through life, he left the mill as soon as ever his 
apprenticeship expired ; " a place," he says, " most 
curious and pleasing to the eye," but which had given 
him a seven years' heart-ache. He was now bound 
for another term to an uncle a stocking-maker at 
Nottingham. " My task was to earn for my uncle 
5^. \Qd. a week. The first week I could reach this 
sum I was to be gratified with sixpence, but ever after, 
should I fall short or go beyond it, the loss or profit 
was to be my own." In this situation, he was not 
only thrashed by his master, but starved by his aunt ; 
and, goaded by the taunts of the neighbours, he fled 
away, but was reluctantly compelled to return. In 
1744 his apprenticeship expired, and for two years 
longer he remained as a journeyman in the same 
employment, but he now made the melancholy dis- 
covery for all trade was in a very wretched condition 
at the time that he had served two separate terms of 
seven years, to two separate trades, and yet could 
subsist upon neither. 

A gradually acquired taste for reading led him to 
purchase a few books, and their tattered condition 
prompted him to try his hand at binding ; and, as he 


could get no employment in his own avocations, he 
determined to start afresh as a bookbinder. His 
friends sneered at his ambitious hopes, but his sister 
supported him firmly. There were no binding tools 
to be purchased then in the country, so his sister 
" raised three guineas, sewed them in my shirt-collar, 
for there was no doubt but I should be robbed," and 
put eleven shillings in his pocket as a sop to the ex- 
pected highwayman, and off he started for London, 
walking fifty-one miles the first day and reaching it 
on the third. Here he invested his three guineas in 
tools, and stayed three days, seeing all that could be 
seen for nothing, his only paid entertainment being a 
visit to Bedlam, which cost a penny. Three days 
more, and he was back at Nottingham, terribly worn- 
out and footsore, but with four-pence still remaining 
out of his little travelling fund. 

He now took a small shop, fourteen miles from 
Nottingham, at an annual rent of twenty shillings, 
and " in one day became the most eminent bookseller 
in Southwell," but he still lived at Nottingham. 
" During the rainy winter months," he says, " I set 
out from Nottingham at five every Saturday morning, 
carried a burthen of from three to thirty pounds' 
weight to Southwell, opened shop at ten, starved it all 
day upon bread, cheese, and half a pint of ale ; took 
from is. to 6s., shut up at four, and by trudging 
through the solitary night and the deep roads five 
hours more, I arrived at Nottingham by nine, where I 
always found a mess of milk-porridge by the fire, 
prepared by my valuable sister. But nothing short of 
resolution and rigid economy could have carried me 
through this scene." 

There was little profit, however, in such a life, 


laborious as it was, and in 1750 he made an exploring 
journey to Birmingham, where he found there were 
only three booksellers Warren, Aris, and Wollaston, 
and here he resolved to settle, hoping that he might 
escape the envy of " the three great men." 

He obtained the use of half a little shop for the 
moderate premium of one shilling per week, but he 
had as yet to find wherewith to stock it. On a 
visit to Nottingham, he met a friendly- minister, who 
asked, for the weather was inclement, why he had 
ventured so far without a great-coat, and who on 
receiving no reply, shrewdly guessed Hutton's im- 
poverished condition, from his draggled, thread-bare 
garments, and offered him a couple of hundred-weight 
of books at his own price, and that price to be post- 
poned to the future, and by way of receipt the young 
bookseller gave him the following : " I promise to pay 
to Ambrose Rudsall 1 *]$., when I am able." The 
debt was speedily cancelled. 

His period of probation was sufficiently severe : 
" Five shillings a week covered all my expenses, as 
food, washing, lodging, &c.," but by degrees the better- 
informed and wealthier of the young clerks and 
apprentices began to frequent his shop, and were 
attracted by his zeal, and his evident love for the 
books he sold. With his skill in binding, he could 
furbish up the shabbiest tomes, and greatly increase 
their marketable value. By the end of his first year 
he found that he had, by the most rigid economy, 
saved up twenty pounds. Things were brightening, 
but the overseers, who at that time possessed a terrible 
power over the poorest classes, ostensibly dreading 
lest he should become chargeable to the parish, re- 
fused his payment of the rates, and bade him remove 


elsewhere. In this strait he exhibited much worldly 
wisdom, and invested half his little hoarding in a fine 
suit of clothes, purchased from one of the overseers, 
who happened to be a draper. 

In the following year, 1751, he took a better shop, 
next door to a Mr. Grace, a hosier, and in a quiet, 
undemonstrative manner, fell in love with his neigh- 
bour's niece. "Time gave us," he says, "numberless 
opportunities of observing each other's actions, and 
trying the tenour of conduct by the touchstone of 
prudence. Courtship was often a disguise. We had 
seen each other when disguise was useless. Besides, 
nature had given to few women a less portion of 
deceit." The uncle at length consented to the match, 
and, with Sarah, Hutton received a dowry of ;ioo; 
and, as he had already amassed 200 of his own, 
from this happy moment his fortunes ran smoothly 

He now increased an otherwise profitable trade 
by starting a circulating library perhaps the first 
that was attempted in the provinces ; and about this 
same time, 1753, he acquired a very useful friend in 
the person of Robert Bage, the paper-maker, and 
undertook the retail portion of the paper business. 
" From this small hint," he says, " I followed the 
stroke forty years, and acquired an ample fortune." 
And yet, though waxing yearly richer and richer, he 
adds, " I never could bear the thought of living to the 
extent of my income. I never omitted to take stock 
or regulate my annual expenses, so as to meet casual- 
ties and misfortunes." By degrees he became invested 
with civic dignities, and little by little he acquired 
the standing of a landed proprietor. Without neg- 
lecting his business he now found leisure for literary 



composition; and in his last work "A Trip to 
Coatham " he tells us, " I took up my pen, and that 
with fear and trembling, at the advanced age of fifty- 
six, a period when most would lay it down. I drove the 
quill thirty years, during which time I wrote and 
published thirty books." 

His first work, the " History of Birmingham," 
appeared, and these thirty tomes of verse and prose 
followed in quick succession. 

In 1802 he published his best-known work, the 
" History of the Roman Wall." Antiquarians had, 
before this, described the famous line of defence, but 
hitherto no one had attempted a personal inspection. 
Seventy-five years old, still hale and hearty, with an 
enthusiasm akin to that of youth, he started on foot 
for Northumberland, accompanied by his daughter on 
horse-back. Intent upon reaching the scene of his 
antiquarian desires, "he turned," writes his daughter, 
"neither to the right nor the left, except to gratify me 
with a sight of Liverpool. Windermere he saw, and 
Ullswater he saw, because they lay under his feet, but 
nothing could detain him from his grand object." On 
his return journey, after every hollow of the ground, 
every stone of the Wall, between Carlisle and New- 
castle, had been examined, he was bitten in the leg by 
a dog, but even this did not restrain him. Within 
four days of home " he made forced journeys, and if 
we had had a little further to go the foot would have 
knocked up the horse ! The pace he went did not 
even fatigue his shoes. He walked the whole 600 
miles in one pair, and scarcely made a hole in his 

Almost to the last he preserved his physical powers 
comparatively intact. When he was eighty-eight, he 


writes " At the age of eighty-two I considered myself 
a young man. I could, without fatigue, walk forty 
miles a day. But during the last few years I have 
felt a sensible decay, and, like a stone rolling downhill, 
its velocity increases with its progress. The strings 
of the instrument are one after another giving way, 
never to be brought into tune." Yet he did not die 
till 1815, at the ripe old age of ninety-two. 

At the close of the last century Hutton lost a 
valuable collection of books, and other valuable 
property, through the lav/less riots that took place in 
his native city ; of these disturbances the author of 
the Press says : 

" When Birmingham, for riots and for crimes, 
Shall meet the keen reproach of future times, 
Then shall she find, amongst' our honoured race, 
One name to save her from entire disgrace. " 

This "one name" was that of John Baskerville, a 
printer, a contemporary of Hutton, and one of the 
most famous English type-founders. Commencing 
life as a schoolmaster, his inclination for books turned 
his attention to type-founding, but he spent 600 
before he produced one letter that thoroughly satisfied 
his exquisitely critical taste, and probably some 
thousands before his business began to prove remune- 
rative ; and, after all, his printing speculations yielded 
more honour than profit. Upon paying a heavy 
royalty to the University of Cambridge, he was 
allowed to print a Bible in royal folio, which, for 
beauty of type, is still unrivalled ; but the slender 
and delicate form of his letters were, as Dr. Dibdin 
remarks, better suited to smaller books, and show to 
the greatest advantage in his I2mo. "Virgil" and 



" Horace." His strenuous endeavours, and his large 
outlay, met with but little return ; and he writes of 
the "business of printing" as one "which I am heartily 
tired of, and repent I ever attempted." He died in 
1775, and appears to have printed nothing during the 
last ten years of his life. By the direction left in his 
will, he was buried under a windmill in his own 
garden, with the following epitaph on his tomb-stone : 
" Stranger ! beneath this cone, in ' unconsecrated 
ground, a friend to the liberties of mankind directed 
his body to be inurned. May the example contribute 
to emancipate thy mind from the idle fears of super- 
stition, and the wicked arts of priesthood." His fount 
of type was unluckily allowed to leave the country, 
and was purchased by Beaumarchais, of Paris, who 
produced some exquisite editions, particularly of 
Voltaire's works, but who lost upwards of one million 
livres in his speculations. 

A successful modern bookselling venture in this 
city resulted from the establishment of the " Educa- 
tional Trading Company (Limited) " a novel phase 
in the trade of which the chief proprietor and chair- 
man was Mr. Josiah Mason. The business management 
was placed in the hands of Mr. Kempster, and, by a 
thorough system of travellers, who personally can- 
vassed the proprietors of schools and colleges, offering 
them very liberal terms, a large connection was almost 
immediately established. The company's operations 
were, of course, confined to the publication of cheap 
educational works ; and some of these, such as Gill's 
and Moffat's series, attained a wide popularity, and 
necessitated, in 1870, the opening of a London branch 
at St. Bride's Avenue, and another branch house at 


One of the most famous booksellers and printers of 
the West of England was Andrew Brice, who was 
born in Exeter in the year 1690. He was educated 
in early life with a view to the ministry, but family 
misfortunes obliged him to become apprentice to 
Bliss, a printer in that city. Long before the ex- 
piry of his apprenticeship the improvident young 
printer married, and, being unable to support a wife 
and two children upon the pittance he received, he 
enlisted as a soldier in order to break his indentures, 
and, by the interest of his friends, soon procured a 
discharge. He commenced business on his own 
account, and started a newspaper, but, possessing 
only one kind of type, he carved in wood the title 
and such capitals as he stood in need of. Becoming 
embarrassed through a law suit, in which heavy 
damages were cast against him, he was obliged to 
bar himself in his own house to escape the debtor's 
gaol. He spent seven long years in this domestic 
confinement, but still continued to conduct his busi- 
ness with assiduity, and, as a solace, to compose a 
poem, " On Liberty," the profits of which enabled him 
to compound with the keepers of the city prison. 
After regaining his freedom his business largely 
increased, and, in 1740, he set up a printing-press at 
Truro, the first introduced into Cornwall ; the miners 
were, however, at that time in little need of literature, 
and he soon removed the types to Exeter. Among 
his chief publications were the "Agreeable Galliman- 
fly; or, Matchless Medley," a collection of verses 
chiefly the production of his own pen; the " Mob-aid," 
so full of newly-coined words that, in Devonshire, 
" Bricisms " were for long synonymous with quaint 
novelty of expression ; and the folio " Geographical 



Dictionary," which occupied ten years in publication 
and is still far from complete. Brice was at all times 
a shielder of the oppressed ; and when the Exeter 
play-actors were purchased out of their theatre by the 
Methodists, who converted it into a chapel, and 
indicted them as vagrants, he published a poem 
" The Playhouse Church; or, new Actors of Devotion," 
which so stirred up popular feeling that the Method- 
ists were fain to restore the place to its former 
possessors, who, under Brice's patronage, opened their 
house for some time gratis to all comers. In grati- 
tude the players brought his characteristics of speech 
and dress into their dramas, and even Garrick eventually 
introduced him, under, of course, a pseudonyme, in 
the " Clandestine Marriage." At the time of his death, 
in 17/3, he was the oldest master-printer in England. 
His corpse lay for some days in state at the Apollo 
Inn ; every person admitted to view it paid a shilling, 
and the money so received went towards defraying the 
expense of his funeral, which was attended by three 
hundred freemasons, for he had not only been a zealous 
member of the fraternity, but at the period of his de- 
cease he was looked upon as the father of the craft. 

Another West of England worthy, though he was 
only a bookseller for the short space of seven years, 
has perhaps higher claim upon our attention than 
any other provincial bibliopole. Joseph Cottle was 
born at Bristol in the year 1770, and at the age of 
twenty-one he became a bookseller in his native 
city. In 1795 he published a volume of his own 
" Poems " and himself an author he was generously 
able to appreciate the work of better men. Through 
extraordinary circumstances he became acquainted 


with Coleridge, Southey, Wordsworth, and Lamb, when 
they were still unknown to fame, and with a rare per- 
ception of genius he was able to assist them materially 
towards the goal of success. From his interesting 
" Early Recollections," we gather that one evening 
Coleridge told him despondently that he had been 
the round of London booksellers with a volume of 
poems, and that all but one had refused to even look 
over the manuscript, and that this one proffered him 
six guineas for the copyright, which sum, poor as he 
was, he felt constrained to decline. Cottle at once 
offered the young author thirty guineas, and actually 
paid the money before the completion of the volume, 
which appeared in 1796. 

To Southey he made the same bid for his first 
volume, and the offer was eagerly accepted. Cottle 
at once, however, added, " You have read me some 
books of your ' Joan of Arc,' which poem I perceive 
to have great merit. If it meet with your concurrence 
I will give you fifty guineas for this work, and publish 
it in quarto, when I will give you in addition fifty 
copies to dispose of among your friends." Southey 
corroborates this account, and further says, " It can 
rarely happen that a young author should meet with a 
bookseller as inexperienced and as ardent as himself ; 
and it would be still more extraordinary if such 
mutual indiscretion did not bring with it cause for 
regret to both. But this transaction was the com- 
mencement of an intimacy which has continued with- 
out the slightest shade of displeasure at any time on 
either side to the present day." Cottle ordered a new 
fount of type " for what was intended to be the hand- 
somest book that Bristol had ever yet sent forth," 
and owing, perhaps, more to the party feelings of the 


periodical press, and the subject of the poem, than to 
any intrinsic merit, other than as holding out vague 
hope of future promise, the young author acquired a 
sudden reputation, which was afterwards fully sus- 
tained by his prose if not by his poetry. 

Later on Cottle was introduced to Wordsworth, 
who read him portions of his " Lyrical Ballads." The 
venturous bookseller made him the same offer of 
thirty guineas for the first-fruits of his genius, saying 
that it would be a gratifying circumstance to issue the 
first volumes of three such poets, and (a veritable 
prophecy) "a distinction that might never again 
occur to a provincial bookseller." After mature con- 
sideration, Wordsworth accepted. the offer; but the 
" Lyrical Ballads," in which also Coleridge's " Ancient 
Mariner" first appeared, went off so slowly that he 
was compelled to part with the greater part of the 
five hundred copies to Arch, a London bookseller. 
We have already related how Cottle, and after him, 
Longman, rendered material assistance to Chatterton's 
sister, by an edition of the poems of the Sleepless 
Boy who perished in his Pride, and how in 1798 Cottle 
disposed of all his copyrights to Longman, and ob- 
tained his consent to return the copyright of the 
" Lyrical Ballads " to the author. 

Though Cottle henceforth gave up bookselling, he 
did not forego book-making. In 1798 he published 
his "Malvern Hills," in 1801 his "Alfred," and in 
1809 the "Fall of Cambria." These last effusions 
attracted the venom of Lord Byron's pen, who writes 
in bitter prose, " Mr. Cottle, Amos, Joseph, I know 
not which, but one or both, once sellers of books they 
did not write, now writers of books that do not sell, 
have published a pair of epics," and in bitterer verse : 


Boeotian Cottle, rich Bristowa's boast, 
Imports old stories from the Cambrian coast, 
And sends his goods to market, all alive, 
Lines forty thousand, cantos twenty-five. 

Oh, Amos Cottle ! Phoebus ! what a name 
To fill the speaking trump of future fame ! 
Oh, Amos Cottle ! for a moment think 
What meagre profits spring from pen and ink ! 
When thus devoted to poetic dreams 
Who will peruse thy prostituted reams ? 
Oh, pen perverted, paper misapplied ! 
Had Cottle still adonied the counter's side, 
Bent o'er the desk, or, born to useful toils, 
Been taught to make the paper which he soils, 
Plough'd, delved, or plied the oar with lusty limb, 
He had not sung of Wales, nor I of him." 

Of course, this confusion of the names of the two 
brothers was intentionally meant to strengthen the 
gibe. Though Cottle was at best an indifferent poet 
his name would have survived as a generous friend 
even if Lord Byron had not honoured him with his 

After having personally encouraged the youthful 
genius of such authors as Coleridge, Southey, and 
Wordsworth, and after having enjoyed their friendship 
and esteem, it was natural that Cottle, when their 
names had become familiar words in every house- 
hold in England, should wish to preserve what he 
could of the history of their early days. In 1837 he 
published his "Early Recollections," but as he had 
felt compelled to decline to contribute them in any 
mutilated form to the authorised, and insufferably 
dull, life of Coleridge, the work was greeted by the 
Quarterly Review with a howl of contemptuous abuse, 
as consisting of the "refuse of advertisements and 
handbills, the sweepings of a shop, the shreds of a 


ledger, and the rank residuum of a life of gossip." 
This is certainly " slashing criticism" with a vengeance : 
Cottle based the value of his book upon the ground 
of his having been a bookseller, and to taunt him with 
the fact is as unmanly as the whole description of the 
work is false. He lays the slightest possible stress 
upon the assistance he had been able to render the 
illustrious authors pecuniarily, and only brings it for- 
ward at all as furnishing matter for literary history ; 
and to most students the literary history of the early 
struggles of genius does possess the highest interest. 
Cottle was certainly unskilled in the art of composition, 
and was undoubtedly garrulous, but the gossip anent 
such writers, when prompted, as in this case, by truth 
and affection, is worth tomes of disquisitions upon their 
virtues or their faults. Joseph Cottle died as recently 
as 1854, and his memory is already half-forgotten, and 
yet had we wished to close our annals of the " trade" 
by tributes paid by illustrious writers to the worth and 
integrity of its members, we could find none more 
fitting than the letters of two famous poets to an 
obscure provincial bookseller. 

" DEAR COTTLE, On the blank leaf of my poems 
I can most appropriately write my acknowledg- 
ments to you, for your too disinterested conduct in 

the purchase of them Had it not been for you 

none, perhaps, of them would have been published, 
and some not written. 

" Your obliged and affectionate friend, 


Again : 

" Do you suppose, Cottle, that I have forgotten 
those true and most essential acts of friendship 


which you showed me when I stood most in need of 
them ? Your house was my house when I had no 
other. , . . Sure I am that there never was a more 
generous or kinder heart than yours, and you will 
believe me when I add that there does not live that 
man upon earth whom I remember with more grati- 
tude and affection. . . . Good-night, my dear old friend 
and benefactor. 





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Notes to the Seventeenth Exhibition of tJie Glasgow 

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Emamiel On Diamonds and Precious 

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The Englishman's Ho^lse: 

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Early English Poets. 

Edited, with Introductions and Annotations, by Rev. A.B.GROSART. 
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scholarship" EXAMINER. 

I. Fletcher s( Giles, B.D.) 

Complete Poems: Christ's Victoria 
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Death, and Minor Poems. 
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Complete Poetical Works, in- 
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perides. Noble Numbers, and 

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\In preparation. 

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Finger-Ring Lore: 

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German Popular Stories. 

Collected by the Brothers GRIMM, and Translated by EDGAR 
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